Archives for category: #PublicHist

Ok so I’ve started a history podcast. Well, me and a bunch of amazing producers at 2SER (a community radio station in Sydney). It’s called History Lab and this is the two 2 min taster:

Podcasting, in case you have been living under a rock, is definitely now a thing. 

According to Sharon Taylor, CEO of Omny Studio, downloads in Australia are now in the tens of millions per month. While you might have noticed radio stations making a big push for podcasts they are by no means only podcasting platform in town (actually only 14% of weekly podcasts are by Australian radio stations or Australian radio personalities). For lots more statistics have a look at The 2018 Infinite Dial Australia study, conducted by Edison Research and Triton Digital (they also have reports on the UK and the USA).

For academics, impact and engagement are also now definitely things. Historians, of course, engage with broad audiences in a variety of ways, from writing for public audiences, to building partnerships with teachers, institutions and community groups – and, yes, to making tv and radio documentaries too! But the rapidly growing popular demand for podcasts makes it a promising – but as yet unharnessed – platform for doing in and with broad audiences.

With History Lab we are trying to make a new kind of podcast. We’ve got some good stories to tell, but we are interested in much more than just the story. Instead of an academic or other expert doing the research and then telling you what it means, we want to draw you as a listener in to the investigative process. We want you to come along with us as we try to make sense of the traces the past leaves in the present.

Sometimes this is confusing and frustrating: records are patchy, evidence is destroyed and a lot of the time people disagree about what happened and what it means. Sometimes there are more questions than answers. But more often than not, trying to make sense of the traces of the past is also pretty exciting. Things are not always what they seem. Aren’t we always in the process of finding that out?

I’ve written a short piece about why I think podcasting matters to historians and what is special about History Lab (it involves an iceberg analogy), but this is the redux version:

First, in a world of fake-news and post-fact, showing what lies behind historians’ claims to knowledge about the past is imperative if those claims are to be believed.

Second, and related, personal experience is transformative. Abstractions and stories must be taken on trust, but lived experience is direct. Hearing steps echoing in empty corridors and the host wondering about the things historians say, invites the listener into the process of discovery. It opens up the experience of history-making to all who listen.

In these two ways, the History Lab podcast seeks to be a contribution to public discourse – it is premised on the notion that doing the work of thinking and making meaning together is central to the good society.

So come and join the History Lab.  Listen online, download in a podcast app and subscribe to receive notifications whenever we release an episode. Tell your internet friends by posting it on facebook, follow @historylabpod on the twitter or send out a carrier pigeon.

Best of all, sit give your friends a good cup of tea and tickle their ears with some history.

Series 1 is as follows (and yes Episode 1 releases imminently!)

  • Episode 1: (30 May) Lindy Chamberlain and the Afterlife of Evidence – What has happened to all the evidence on which Lindy’s trials turned?
  • Episode 2: (13 June) Damages for a broken heart – What is the history of love and heartbreak in colonial Australia?
  • Episode 3: (27 June) When the Titanic sank in the outback – Why is there a memorial to the Titanic in the middle of outback Australia?
  • Episode 4: (11 July) Fishing for answers – We encounter the practices of the Eora fisherwomen and discover if you listen closely the past of Sydney Harbour still sings.
  • Bonus Episode 5: (18 July) The making of History Lab  Explore the thrills and spills of Season 1, and how you can get involved in the next season.

But, wait there’s more!

Don’t just listen to History Lab – help to make it! History Lab is open as national engagement platform for historians of all stripes. Find out more about how to pitch us an episode and a whole lot more at our website https://historylab.net

 

 

beach life beach chair strandkorb via Flikr CommonsWhile I was eating oysters in Tasmania, some of my history colleagues were busy on all the medias. The 26th of January provides an annual a bumper crop of #publichist in ‘Straya (not collected here) but when parliament is out of session and people are on the beach and bored editors are looking for copy, it seems historians can be relied upon to comment on most things. Trusty historians. Where would we be without them? This time with choice quotations.

  • Kate Fullagar on symbols as gateways and how not to begin an email (“History Lesson”, 16 Jan, 2018 – http://www.katefullagar.com)

    How friendly can one be with one’s former kidnapper?

  • Alecia Simmonds (sorry “‘World-renowned historian, Alecia Simmonds’) chatting with the ABC’s Tim Brunero about a not un-important 18thC dude who put pen on paper a lot (The gorgeous letters of Matthew Flinders, date not particularly clear, Tim Brunero on Soundcloud)

    He really flirts with her, but he can’t go through with it

  • Alecia Simmonds (again) (Tennis has a gender problem and it doesn’t have to be like this, 26 Jan, 2018, Sydney Morning Herald)

    I spent my childhood in an intimate imagined dialogue with every female tennis player on the circuit: beguiled by Arancha Sanchez-Vicario and her exotic double-barrelled name, infatuated by Monica Seles’ primal grunts and convinced of the physical superiority of lesbians by Martina Navratilova’s speed.

  • Paul Kramer posing some alternative questions we can ask about racism and immigration in the US, but more widely applicable (Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Racism represents an American Tradition 22 Jan 2018, New York Times and the longer, less trimmed edition)

    Elites in the United States and elsewhere — long before Donald Trump’s presidency — have long known they could sustain their power by capitalizing on, deepening and, where necessary, inventing divisions between self and other, friend and enemy.

And if you have read this far, your reward is my entreaty to do yourself a favour and read Charlotte Higgins’ piece on the wonderful Mary Beard and what it is to be an academic in the public sphere and how lives and careers don’t run along a smooth logical path and how to make public discourse better than it is.

  • Charlotte Higgins, The Cult of Mary Beard, 30 Jan 2018, The Guardian

    This is also how she teaches – with an unusually sincere attachment to the principle that the pedagogical process should be rooted in an encounter, a relationship and a dialogue.

    One reason Beard is so widely beloved is that her interventions in public life – whether one agrees with her or not – offer an alternative mode of discourse, one that people are hungry for: a position that is serious and tough in argument, but friendly and humorous in manner, and one that, at a time when disagreements quickly become shrill or abusive, insists on dialogue.

 

view-of-sunrise-over-the-ocean-through-a-wire-fence-austockphoto-000002240

What a time it is to an historian!

Here in our corner of the world in Australia, the last few weeks have witnessed a series of social and political events that have absorbed the nation.

To my mind at least, they show that the gaping cracks long evident in the notion of citizenship and belonging (and therefore sovereignty) that underpinned 20th century Australia are now so wide as to be swallowing us whole.

This was a notion of citizenship founded on settler colonialism, racial exclusion, imperial benevolence (British or American), wage arbitration, and the gendered politics that came with it. And it is in this sense that the dual citizenship crisis engulfing parliament, the Manus Island refugee crisis still unfolding with tragic consequences, the politics of the non-binding same-sex marriage postal survey, the Liberal government’s out-of-hand rejection of the Uluru Statement’s proposal for an Indigenous voice to parliament, the ongoing disaster of environmental blindness and destructive resource extraction, and the interlinked outrage of insecure work and tax avoidance are all connected.

Who gets to belong? Who gets to participate and on what (and who’s) terms? These questions underpin our political moment, not just in Australia but across the globe.

They cry out for contextualisation – no wonder the historians are out in force:

Are you an historian who has written for a wider audience? Send your #publichist pieces in for puffing!

 

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