AANZEHN Publication Round-Up December 2021-May 2022

By David Harris and Daniel Rothenburg

From our desks in Melbourne, Australia, and Tübingen, Germany, we present to you the latest edition of our AANZEHN publication round-up. We have divided the publications under themes to give a better view of the rich panorama that is the field of environmental historical research amongst our members for the period from December 2021 to May 2022. We hope you enjoy it.

Our next call for submissions is due to be published in January 2023.




Environmental Activism

Environmental Ideas, Theory and Philosophy

Farming, Agriculture and Soil

Forests, Forestry and Forest Industry

Human Biology, Public Health, Pandemics

Geology, Geography and Landscapes

Reflections, Literature and Visual Cultures

Marine and Freshwater Environments

Natural History

Plants and Fungi

Urban Environments, Gardens and Parks

Technology and the Environment






Russell McGregor, “J. A. Leach’s Australian Bird Book: at the interface of science and recreation”, Historical Records of Australian Science (May 2022), https://doi.org/10.1071/HR21010.

An Australian Bird Book by J. A. Leach, published in 1911, was the first field guide to Australia’s avifauna. Unlike today’s field guides, it was not tightly focussed on identification, instead devoting more than half its words to an expansive dissertation on the natural history of birds. This article scrutinises and contextualises Leach’s Bird Book to illuminate some of the interconnections between science, birdwatching, recreation and conservation in early twentieth-century Australia. It shows how Leach’s heavy weighting on natural history was integral to his promotion of birdwatching as an edifying recreation that would lead people not merely to be able to name the birds they saw but also, more importantly, to understand, cherish and protect them.

Russell McGregor, “The Tragedy of the Paradise Parrot”, Arcadia 27 (Summer 2021), https://www.environmentandsociety.org/arcadia/tragedy-paradise-parrot.

Amateur ornithologist Alec Chisholm published “The Paradise Parrot Tragedy” just after the species’ rediscovery in December 1921. Although he did not then know how deep the tragedy would run, he used the story of what seemed to be a bird’s near encounter with extinction to warn his fellow Australians of their need to reform their dealings with nature. His warnings retain pertinence today, but not for the Paradise Parrot. In a dismal denouement to the cautious hopes raised by the parrot’s rediscovery, its numbers continued to dwindle until the species was eventually pronounced extinct.

Anton Sveding, “‘No observant friend of birds keeps a cat’: Cats and native bird preservation in interwar New Zealand”, New Zealand Journal of History 56 (1/2022), pp. 94-114.

Over the last few years, the negative impact of cats on the indigenous avifauna of Aotearoa New Zealand has received increasing attention amongst conservationists and the wider public. In 2018, the Southland Regional Council proposed ‘a ban on all new domestic cats’ in Omaui – a small village located on the south coast of the South Island, New Zealand – due to their harmful impact on flora and fauna, especially native birds. Three years earlier, in 2013, economist and philanthropist Gareth Morgan caused public outcry after suggesting a nation-wide eradication of domestic cats in order to preserve native birds. However, the idea of killing cats in the interest of protecting native birds is nothing new: on the contrary, it constituted a central part of the native bird preservation movement emerging in the early 1900s. This article examines anti-cat propaganda and arguments in favour of an eradication of cats by the Native Bird Preservation Society (today Forest and Bird) in its magazine during the interwar-period.


Alessandro Antonello, “Béchervaise, John Mayston (1910–1998)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, e-pub ahead of print 2022, https://researchnow.flinders.edu.au/en/publications/bechervaise-john-mayston-19101998.

A short biographical entry on John Mayston Béchervaise (1910–1998), writer, schoolteacher, Antarctic explorer, and traveller.

Russell McGregor, “An Oologist at Tinaroo: Sid Jackson’s 1908 expedition to north Queensland”, North Queensland Naturalist, vol.52, 2022, pp.19-33, https://www.nqnat.org/volume-52.

Sid Jackson (1873-1946) was once renowned as a field ornithologist and collector. Beyond his attainments in those domains, he is exceptionally interesting from an historical perspective for the meticulousness with which he recorded not only his ornithological activities but also his subjective state while carrying them out. His diaries offer a window onto the world of a field worker of a bygone age, through which we can glimpse both the similarities and the differences between the ornithological enterprises of then and now. This article, focussing on one of his collecting expeditions, gazes through that window to recount how Jackson conducted his ornithological activities and to explore the passions and ambitions that drove them. It shows that despite the disparities between his modes of birding and those of today, there are many parallels and congruences.

Mike Roche, “Dr. J. M. Bell, FRGS: A Canadian Auxiliary Geographer in New Zealand”, Journal of New Zealand Studies,NS32, pp. 108-122.

Using Hodder’s notion of “biography as method,” this paper examines the geographical endeavours of James Mackintosh Bell, Director of the New Zealand Geological Survey from 1905 to 1911, in New Zealand and Canada. Canadian born, Harvard trained, Bell has a significant place in the history of geology in New Zealand and mining geology in Canada, yet much of his writing was explicitly geographical in orientation. This essay analyses this body of work and its significance and limitations in adding to and disseminating knowledge of the geography of NZ, particularly. Bell credentialed himself geographically as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS). The FRGS were important builders of geographical knowledge in NZ from the 1850s up to the establishment of university geography in the 1930s when formal geographical research commenced. Geologists were a numerically significant group amongst the NZ FRGS, distinctive in that they held university qualifications, and Bell was particularly wide ranging in his geographical interests.

Environmental Activism

Danielle Brady, Keith Bradby, Gracie Butler and Andrea Gaynor, “Community-led land management: historical perspectives, future prospects”, 2022, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, e-pub ahead of print 2022, https://doi.org/10.1080/14486563.2022.2077848.

This study introduces community-led land management (CLLM) as a unifying concept, drawn from an environmental history perspective, that both researchers and community members might use in analysis and reflection on land management activities carried out by communities in connection with place. By exploring the histories of three otherwise disparate case studies in south-western Australia–a catchment group, an Indigenous ranger group and an urban bushland friends group–we draw attention to common attributes of community leadership and co-operative, hands-on work in and for a defined geographical area. These case studies also suggest a trend toward increasingly structured controls within the movement, with neoliberal regulation and accountability tending to obscure community origins. While inclusive of many landcare activities, CLLM can be understood as a broader social movement covering diverse groupings, where communities continue both to lead and apply their place-specific knowledge and labour. This social movement is of crucial importance for effectively tackling the escalating environmental problems in Australia and elsewhere.

Heather Goodall, Georges River Blues: Swamps, Mangroves and Resident Action, 1945–1980 (Canberra: ANU Press, 2022), https://dx.doi.org/10.22459/grb.2021.

The lower Georges River, on Dharawal and Dharug lands, was a place of fishing grounds, swimming holes and picnics in the early twentieth century. But this all changed after World War II, when rapidly expanding industry and increasing population fell heaviest on this river, polluting its waters and destroying its bush.

Local people campaigned to defend their river. They battled municipal councils, who were themselves struggling against an explosion of garbage as population and economy changed. In these blues (an Australian term for conflict), it was mangroves and swamps that became the focus of the fight. Mangroves were expanding because of increasing pollution and early climate change. Councils wanted to solve their garbage problems by bulldozing mangroves and bushland, dumping garbage and, eventually, building playing fields. So they attacked mangroves as useless swamps that harboured disease. Residents defended mangroves by mobilising ecological science to show that these plants nurtured immature fish and protected the river’s health.

These suburban resident action campaigns have been ignored by histories of the Australian environmental movement, which have instead focused on campaigns to save distant ‘wilderness’ or inner-city built environments. The Georges River environmental conflicts may have been less theatrical, but they were fought out just as bitterly. And local Georges River campaigners – men, women and often children – were just as tenacious. They struggled to ‘keep bushland in our suburbs’, laying the foundation for today’s widespread urban environmental consciousness

Russell McGregor,‘“100 years ago, this man discovered an exquisite parrot thought to be extinct. What came next is a tragedy we must not repeat”, The Conversation, published 10 December 2021,


Exactly 100 years ago tomorrow, a bird that had been relegated to extinction made a comeback. The exquisitely beautiful paradise parrot was rediscovered by Cyril Jerrard, a grazier from Gayndah in Queensland’s Burnett district, on December 11 1921. But its return was fleeting. Scattered pairs were seen around Gayndah until 1929. Some were seen around nearby Gin Gin in the 1930s. After that came only rumour and hope.

Aidan Davidson, Lilian Pearce, Benjamin Cooke and Jamie B. Kirkpatrick, “From activism to “not-quite-government”: the role of government and non-government actors in the expansion of the Australian protected area estate since 1990”, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09640568.2022.2040452.

What can we learn from the prodigious expansion of the non-government protected areas that now comprise 12% of terrestrial Australia? An increasingly professional, formal, and diverse non-government sector has developed since 1990, comprising private individuals, non-government organizations, and First Nations and having close ties to governments. We investigate the drivers, dynamics, and diversity of this sector through thematic analysis of 24 key informant interviews and associated gray literature. Changing environmental movements, science-led conservation, partial recognition of First Nations land rights, international agreements, and neoliberal reforms combined to formalize the sector during the 1990s. A bipartisan policy framework for incorporating non-government lands in the national conservation estate, diverse partnerships, transnational networks, and innovation in public and private funding helped grow the sector. The confluence of interests that has transformed the politics and practice of nature conservation in Australia is likely to inform those engaged with similar changes elsewhere.

Josh Wodak, “Drawing a Line in the Sand: Bioengineering as Conservation in the face of Extinction Debt”, Queensland Review (special issue on ‘Between Pride and Despair: Stories of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforests’) 28 (2/2021), pp. 169-182, https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/queensland-review/article/abs/drawing-a-line-in-the-sand-bioengineering-as-conservation-in-the-face-of-extinction-debt/A1408279778EEEBD0A6D43D36F7F815B.

What conservation could possibly become commensurate with the rates of human-induced biophysical change unfolding at the advent to the Sixth Extinction Event? Any such conservation would require time-critical interventions into both ecosystems and evolution itself, for these interventions would also require domains of risk and ethics that shatter normative understandings of conservation. Yet a line appears to have been drawn in the sand against such experi- mental conservation. Holding the line will retain conservation practices that are null and void against the extinction debt facing multitudes of species. Crossing the line would invoke scales of bioengineering that appear abhorrent to normative morality. This article explores the question of whether this line in the sand could, and should, be crossed through a detailed case study of current and proposed conservation for endangered Chelonia mydas sea turtles on Raine Island, a small coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Chelonia mydas and Raine Island are presented as synecdoche for conservation across diverse species across the world because turtles are among the most endangered of all reptiles and Raine Island is the largest and most important rookery in the world for this species. With such lines disappearing under the rising seas, the article contemplates the unthinkable questions that our current situation demands we ask, and perhaps even try to answer.

Environmental Ideas, Theory and Philosophy

Warwick Anderson, “The Whiteness of Bioethics”, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 18 (2021), pp. 93-97, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11673-020-10075-y.

A discussion of whiteness as an “ethos” or “relational category” in bioethics, drawing on examples from medical and historical research. Although lack of diversity among bioethicists should disturb us, my main concern here is with whiteness as an “ethos” of bioethics — or at least, with whiteness as a “relational category” in bioethics. This seems to me a problem ramifying through the whole enterprise. But what do I mean by “whiteness”? “There is, in fact, no white community,” James Baldwin wrote. “The people who, as they claim, ‘settled’ the country became white because of the necessity of denying the Black presence and justifying the Black subjection.” Or as Homi K. Bhabha later put it, whiteness is more a “strategy of authority” than any “authentic or essential ‘identity.’” Elsewhere, I have described the global “white man,” emerging toward the end of the nineteenth century, as a “boundary subject” and whiteness as a loosely structured and flexible “boundary strategy”. That is, whiteness might be invisible and unmarked and normalized, supposedly “value neutral,” at stable or controlled locales yet rendered visible or asserted vigorously when under stress or challenge in other situations, when confronted on the borderlands by perceived difference.

Alessandro Antonello, “Monumental geo-politics: ocean, land and Captain Cook in interwar Australia”, History Australia 18 (4/2021), p. 753-767, https://researchnow.flinders.edu.au/en/publications/monumental-geo-politics-ocean-land-and-captain-cook-in-interwar-a.

This article argues that several prominent monuments dedicated to Captain James Cook in interwar Australia should be understood as geo-political acts, as well as signs of the broader cultures of memorialisation attached to prominent historical figures. The article narrates and analyses three related Cook monuments: an obelisk at Point Hicks (Cape Everard), Victoria, raised in 1925; a stone jetty at Kealakekua Bay, Hawai‘i completed in 1930; and a facsimile of the 1925 Point Hicks obelisk sent to Yorkshire in 1933. An important but previously unrecognised element of these monuments is that those who proposed and supported them were engaged in a globe-spanning geo-politics of possession, in ongoing imperialism and colonialism, in defining land and ocean, and in region-shaping.

Alessandro Antonello and Nancy Cushing, “Re-storying monuments: forum introduction”, History Australia, 18 (4/2021), pp. 747-752, https://researchnow.flinders.edu.au/en/publications/re-storying-monuments-forum-introduction.

Statues, monuments and memorials have been key sites of protest in recent years in communities around the world. Local demands for racial justice and historical truth-telling interacted with transnational movements and concerns. Responding to these urgent demands, some historians counsel re-interpretation of monuments, some eagerly push to topple statues, and others embrace the core of their discipline: to tell the truth about the past, seeking out the voices of forgotten and marginalised peoples and bringing to light forgotten events. This forum presents research and perspectives on a range of Australian monuments, their creation and the performances around them. The aim is to ‘re-story’ these monuments, to unearth lost histories, meanings and performances in the context of current concerns around racial and social justice, climate change and the Anthropocene and eroding working rights and conditions.

Alda Balthrop-Lewis, “A flourishing ecology and a healthy economy? Henry David Thoreau thought you couldn’t have one without the other”, The Conversation, published online 24 May 2022, https://theconversation.com/a-flourishing-ecology-and-a-healthy-economy-henry-david-thoreau-thought-you-couldnt-have-one-without-the-other-183336.

Thoreau thought commerce destroyed moral freedom. A true “economy”, he argued, would lead to ecological and social flourishing for humans and for all beings. Australians have just decided another “climate election”. What this meant, basically, was that we had to choose between two difficult futures. The result has yielded a new mandate for meaningful work on climate policy.

Nanda Jarosz, “Indigenous and Local Knowledge and Aesthetics: Towards an Intergenerational Aesthetics of Nature” Environmental Values (2022), https://doi.org/10.3197/096327122X16491521047053.

In a recent paper, Allen Carlson moves away from a purely scientific–cognitive framework for environmental aesthetics towards a ‘combination position’ based on the eco aesthetics theorised by Xiangzhan Cheng. Carlson argues that only an aesthetics informed by ecological knowledge can offer the correct foundations for the continued relevance of environmental aesthetics to environmental ethics. However, closer analysis of Cheng’s theory of eco aesthetics reveals a number of problems related to questions of anthropocentrism and in particular, the issue of an ethic based on love. In this paper, I offer an alternative approach for the future of environmental aesthetics in the form of an intergenerational aesthetics based on Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK).

Libby Robin, “Soil in the Air”, Historical Records of Australian Science 33 (2/2022), https://doi.org/10.1071/HR21014.

The post-war era of the 1940s is known for the birth of global governance, a time when Western nations united in efforts to reconstruct the war-torn world and reflected on the role of science in society. History and philosophy of science (HPS) was one of the early projects that emerged out of the war years. Diana (Ding) Dyason who headed the first HPS department in the southern hemisphere is honoured by this annual lecture, the text of which constitutes this article. Thomas Kuhn’s influential lecture in Oxford in 1961 inspired her work on the history of scientific entanglement with social concerns, and the directions of HPS at the University of Melbourne. Post-war reconstruction was both a local and a national project for every nation, very much in the air in the 1940s, and influential until the 1970s. The Australasian Association of Scientific Workers (AASW) brought together scientists too old to serve, or, in reserved occupations, to undertake their own ‘war effort’ on the question of: ‘What comes next?’ AASW held a planning conference in Sydney in 1944 to ‘formulate a policy on the organisation of science necessary to meet the demands of post-war Australia’. They set out to consider the role of the ‘the scientific method’ in the welfare of society. In particular, they recognised their existing international scientific networks and connections could become valuable for post-war collaborations between different sciences and different nations of benefit to Australia and the world. The idea of ‘the environment’ was one of many that emerged internationally in these ‘world-minded’ times, an idea that focused on the management of nature for the benefit of people using the scientific method. National Parks were a crucial discussion point, bringing together amateur naturalists and professional environmental managers of all sorts in discussions about landscape planning along with international comparative work on reserving places for wild animals and plants. This Dyason Lecture explores the emergence of ‘integrated science’, of science in the service of society, that later included natural resource management, big science, environmental science, earth systems science and climate science. It begins with the tragedy of the ‘dirty thirties’, when soil was in the air, and the scientific response to concerns about feeding the world.

Libby Robin, “#Arts_for_Survival” Humanities Australia (12/2021), pp. 3-14, https://humanities.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/HA12-ROBIN-D.03.pdf.

The environmental humanities use creativity, including writing, art, music and exhibitions, to work with audiences and communities personally, to try to slow planetary damage and to heal personal stress. Documenting environmental decline is not enough to create change: dismal stories just paralyse people, including the narrators of such stories, as climate scientists regularly testify.

Farming, Agriculture and Soil

James Beattie, “Labour and Enterprise: Cantonese Farming, Work and Environmental Change in Rural Aotearoa New Zealand, 1860s-1914”, New Zealand Journal of History, 04 April 2022, https://openaccess.wgtn.ac.nz/articles/journal_contribution/LABOUR_AND_ENTERPRISE_CANTONESE_FARMING_WORK_AND_ENVIRONMENTAL_CHANGE_IN_RURAL_AOTEAROA_NEW_ZEALAND_1860s_1914/20155217.

It’s time to write Cantonese back into the story of rural Aotearoa. Aside from market gardening, historians have overlooked the role of Cantonese in rural New Zealand. This article seeks to broaden existing studies on farming, environmental change and rural enterprise by examining Cantonese entrepreneurs and workers. Cantonese merchants, this article shows, invested in enterprises, ranging from the development of dairying, to tobacco-growing and plantations. These activities variously utilised Chinese and New Zealand markets, business networks, and labour. The paper also examines Cantonese labourers in rural New Zealand.

Margaret Cook, “Australia’s Entanglement in Global Cotton”, Agricultural History 96 (1-2/2022), pp. 29–53, https://doi.org/10.1215/00021482-9619788.

Cotton in Australia has always been entwined with America and England. From the initial stimulus of the American War of Independence to the boost created by the boll weevil outbreak in the 1920s, the fortunes of Australian cotton producers have been shaped by American history as much as their own nation’s political and economic imperatives. Scientists and farmers relied on American experience, importing seed, knowledge, personnel, and technology. The global market reflected fluctuations in the US cotton industry and the demands of English cotton mills. Australia relied on the imports of the English cotton mills and an injection of funds by the British Cotton Growing Association (BCGA) in the 1920s to boost industry. While Australian politicians promoted cotton as a domestic economic and demographic stimulant, fulfilment of these nation-state objectives was deeply entangled with, and dependent on, those of America and England.

Julie McIntyre, “‘For us as experimentalists.’ An Australian case study of scientific values in nineteenth-century New World winegrowing” In The Routledge Handbook of Wine and Culture (London: Routledge 2022), https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/edit/10.4324/9781003034711/routledge-handbook-wine-culture-steve-charters-marion-demossier-jacqueline-dutton-graham-harding-jennifer-smith-maguire-denton-marks-tim-unwin?refId=3fba6c47-6750-4858-b9d5-b41a0971e0e7&context=ubx.

Science-mindedness in nineteenth-century New World winegrower organisations is a neglected area of research in studies of wine and culture. Where culture is defined as tradition or artistry, science may be thought of as separate from, or even in opposition to, culture. Yet scientific research and instruction are human endeavours requiring practices of reasoning through problems, encounters between practitioners and knowledge exchanged in modes of communication from interpersonal to international. Science, in its development and application, is a form of human culture. This chapter traces the emergence of a faith in science in colonial Australia and challenges to that mindset among members of one of the Anglophone New World’s oldest and most enduring winegrower organisations, the Hunter River Vineyard Association.

Forests, Forestry and Forest Industry

Mike Roche, “2021- another New Zealand forestry centenary”, New Zealand Journal of Forestry 65 (4/2021), pp. 32-36.

On 24 September 2019, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the New Zealand Forest Service was marked at Parliament with speeches and presentations (Golding, 2019). A year before (in 2018) Te Uru Rakau Forestry New Zealand was established to ‘strengthen and grow the forestry sector in New Zealand.’ This in itself signals that the existence of state forestry agencies has not been unbroken, nor has their purpose been unchanging. Consider also the disestablishment of the New Zealand Forest Service in 1987 to make way for a Ministry of Forestry, a Department of Conservation and a Forestry Corporation (of which only the Department of Conservation remains in 2021).

Human Biology, Public Health, Pandemics

Warwick Anderson, “The model crisis, or how to have critical promiscuity in the time of Covid-19”, Social Studies of Science 51 (2/2021), pp. 167-188, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0306312721996053.

During the past forty years, statistical modelling and simulation have come to frame perceptions of epidemic disease and to determine public health interventions that might limit or suppress the transmission of the causative agent. The influence of such formulaic disease modelling has pervaded public health policy and practice during the Covid-19 pandemic. The critical vocabulary of epidemiology, and now popular debate, thus includes R0, the basic reproduction number of the virus, ‘flattening the curve’, and epidemic ‘waves’. How did this happen? What are the consequences of framing and foreseeing the pandemic in these modes? Focusing on historical and contemporary disease responses, primarily in Britain, I explore the emergence of statistical modelling as a ‘crisis technology’, a reductive mechanism for making rapid decisions or judgments under uncertain biological constraint. I consider how Covid-19 might be configured or assembled otherwise, constituted as a more heterogeneous object of knowledge, a different and more encompassing moment of truth – not simply as a measured telos directing us to a new normal. Drawing on earlier critical engagements with the AIDS pandemic, inquiries into how to have ‘theory’ and ‘promiscuity’ in a crisis, I seek to open up a space for greater ecological, sociological, and cultural complexity in the biopolitics of modelling, thereby attempting to validate a role for critique in the Covid-19 crisis.

Warwick Anderson, “When the General Calls: Military Tactics Against COVID-19 in Australia”, Arena 8 (Summer 2021), pp. 22-26.

When I received an email in early July this year, ostensibly from Lieutenant General John J. Frewin, the recently appointed coordinatorgeneral of the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce, I thought at first it must be a clever hoax, an amusing scam. I couldn’t decide who of fellow historians Frank Bongiorno and Marilyn Lake was the more likely culprit, but each quickly denied any fabrication. The email arrived in my inbox some six months after Pamela Maddock and I had written for Arena a trenchant criticism of the increasing tendency in Australia to resort to the military to solve civil problems, whether Indigenous deprivation and destitution (as in the ‘Intervention’), refugee troubles, bushfire catastrophes, and now a devastating pandemic.

Tiarne Barratt and Alison Bashford, “Lines of Hygiene: Pandemic Border Control in Australia, 1919”, Australian Historical Studies 53 (2/2022), pp. 284-307, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2021.2005644.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis has highlighted the public health history of infectious disease control. Yet while much historiographical focus has been directed to the management of international movement in pandemic times, this has proved insufficient as restrictions on movement have turned inward and become far more domestic and local during COVID-19. We argue for a new significance of, and for, local historical analysis of medico-legal border regulation. We consider Australian responses to the influenza pandemic of 1918–19 in this light, examining three geographies through which movement was restricted – interstate, intrastate, and town and district – and the internal lines of hygiene that were both established and evaded. We analyse the exercise of authority, as much as law, including the micro-authorities claimed by local residents’ groups in 1919. We argue that authority – lawful and sometimes lawless – was both devolved and assumed at a finer scale than historical scholarship has recognised.

Catharine Coleborne and James Dunk, “From the margins: madness and history in Australia”, History Australia 19 (1/2022), pp. 3-12, https://doi.org/10.1080/14490854.2022.2028572.

This Introduction situates the Australian scholarship on the histories of mental illness, madness, psychiatry and institutions in a wider perspective. It argues for the relevance and importance of histories of madness in our present. To ask what place madness has in historical studies is to ask what place, or places, madness occupies in society. We now talk frequently of mental health and mental illness, and we are beginning again to talk of madness. Beneath the COVID-19 pandemic, mental disorders and conditions are reaching epidemic levels, spurred by war, displacement, inequity, and climate change. The World Health Organisation warns that one in five young people, globally, have a mental health condition.In Australia, 4 in 10 Year 12 students report untoward symptoms of anxiety and depression, and suicide is a leading cause of death for those aged between 5 and 17 years.

James Dunk, “Wrongful confinement and the spectre of colonial despotism: a political history of madness in New South Wales, 1843”, History Australia 19 (1), pp. 34-53, https://doi.org/10.1080/14490854.2022.2028557.

In a penal colony, replete with anxieties of liberty and mobility, admission to a lunatic asylum carried particular significance. This article takes up the trope of wrongful confinement – the institutionalisation of the sane in institutions for the insane – in order to explore the aims and methods of a new field, the political history of madness. Elsewhere wrongful confinement registered cultural anxieties of the loss of rights and social death, inflected along existing fault lines in the body politic. But in New South Wales, in the immediate aftermath of convict transportation and in the search for responsible government, the prospect of wrongful confinement was used to raise the spectre of colonial despotism. In November 1843 a group of reformers gathered around the Australian newspaper lent their support to a suit brought by Charles Robertson Hyndman against the visiting magistrate and superintendent of Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum. Magistrates, lawyers and newly elected politicians, they first had Hyndman freed and then used his case to attack irresponsible power in the colony. A potent metaphor for colonial politics, here wrongful confinement is used to show the potential of the political history of madness.

Geology, Geography and Landscapes

Peter J. Ardill, “Rekindling memory of environmental repair responses to the Australian wind erosion crisis of 1930–45: ecologically aligned restoration of degraded aridzone pastoral lands and the resultant shaping of state soil conservation policies” The Repair Press (January 2022), https://ecologicalrestorationhistory.files.wordpress.com/2022/01/ardill-2022-rekindling-memory-of-environmental-repair-responses.pdf

Settlers degraded many of Australia’s natural ecosystems. Environmental repair projects emerged, but collective memory of them and their significance is patchy. In one landmark but largely forgotten case, the outcomes of a series of South Australian and New South Wales repair projects played an influential role in advancing the development of arid-zone land management practices that conserved natural resources. From the 1920s scientists investigating arid-zone indigenous vegetation loss and resultant wind erosion advocated for ecologically sensitive land management practices. A set of 1930s pastoralists and conservationists implemented repair projects that restored indigenous vegetation, checked erosion and validated the ecological approach. Between 1936 and 1949 state governments impressed by these projects incorporated ecologically aligned repair practices into soil conservation policies and legislation. A start to the development in Australia of a formal, vindicated body of environmental repair thought and practice characterised by an intention to reverse degradation can be traced to approximately 1930.

Mark Butz, “Where has all the limestone gone?: plumbing the depths of Canberra”,  Canberra Historical Journal 88 (March 2022), pp. 11-23, https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/informit.482737351793763.

With Canberra once known as the Limestone Plains, why is limestone now so rarely seen there?  The author has a fondness for limestone, karst landscapes, and cryptic water.  This article scans evidence of use of limestone in the landscape by the First People, and of the importance of lime production to the first century of European settlement.  In the second century, it recounts stories of how what lies unseen beneath the surface can confound urban development.  It traces changes in social valuing over the past 200 years as limestone in Canberra has been, sequentially: an attraction to pioneer settlement; a source of local identity; a resource to be exploited; a complication to be overcome in construction; and most recently a marker of deep time.

Jarod Hore, “Settlers in Earthquake Country: Apprehending Instability in New Zealand and California”, Pacific Historical Review 91, pp. 1 – 32, http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/phr.2022.91.1.1.

This article examines how settlers in New Zealand and California responded to seismic instability throughout the late nineteenth century. By interpreting a series of moments during which the foundations of settlement were shaken by earthquakes I argue that the economic temporality of colonial boom and bust inflected contemporary understandings of natural disaster. In earthquake country, the relationships between scientists and settlers, their environmental knowledge, and the physical world existed in a dynamic equilibrium. When earthquakes struck in opportune conditions settlers were quick to resume their speculation on land, scientists were inspired by upheaval, and artists found sublimity in instability. In times of doubt earthquakes induced a latent anxiety among settlers about the prospects of the colonial project. In this context natural disasters were framed as threats to growth or harbingers of decline. Read together, responses to earthquakes offer a new way into the environmental history of settler colonialism that places a form of creative destruction at the center of the colonial project on both sides of the Pacific Rim.

Jarod Hore, Visions of Nature How Landscape Photography Shaped Settler Colonialism (Oakland: University of California Press 2022), https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520381261/visions-of-nature.

Visions of Nature revives the work of late nineteenth-century landscape photographers who shaped the environmental attitudes of settlers in the colonies of the Tasman World and in California. Despite having little association with one another, these photographers developed remarkably similar visions of nature. They rode a wave of interest in wilderness imagery and made pictures that were hung in settler drawing rooms, perused in albums, projected in theaters, and re-created on vacations. In both the American West and the Tasman World, landscape photography fed into settler belonging and produced new ways of thinking about territory and history. During this key period of settler revolution, a generation of photographers came to associate “nature” with remoteness, antiquity, and emptiness, a perspective that disguised the realities of Indigenous presence and reinforced colonial fantasies of environmental abundance. This book lifts the work of these photographers out of their provincial contexts and repositions it within a new comparative frame.

Lilian Pearce, “Contaminated Kinship”, Aeon Magazine. https://aeon.co/essays/home-among-the-toxic-dust-and-soil-of-australias-mining-towns.

The ecology of arid Australia is patient. The crust of this island continent, moving ever so slowly, consists of soils that are ancient, dry and nutrient-poor. Inland, water is elusive. Often exposed to soaring temperatures, the earth bakes. The forms of life that thrive here – thrifty, tough, strident, brittle, and fragile ­– grow to the boom-and-bust rhythm of the desert: the flourishing of the wet season, the dormancy of the dry. (…) At this meeting of slow, ancient ecology and fast settler-violence, enduring legacies are forged. (…) In certain places, humans and minerals have become irreversibly linked, as mined and processed materials travel down rivers, drift across borders, enter lungs, seep into flesh, and settle in bones. These toxic minerals scribe extractive histories into bodies through the corrosive powers of neurological interruption and developmental deformity, weaving themselves into future generations as they pass through placenta walls. It is a toxic inheritance. A small cost, the powerful argue, that individuals must bear. It is a kind of violence for which none can be truly held accountable. What can we learn from those who live with these disturbed and dispersed minerals, not as inert, dormant elements in a landscape, but as something closer to kin?

Reflections, Literature and Visual Cultures

Stephen Muecke, Jennifer Eadie, Alessandro Antonello, Tully Barnett, Jana Norman, Amy Matthews and Stephen Zagala, “Saltfish: Ecologies of Creative Processes”, Sydney Review of Books, 11 April 2022, https://researchnow.flinders.edu.au/en/publications/saltfish-ecologies-of-creative-processes.

Inspired by the award-winning short film, How to Make Saltfish (2021), by Paul Bell and Stephen Pigram, the Posthumanities research group at Flinders University in Adelaide got to work writing this essay, collectively, more-than-humanly. Among other possibilities, the posthumanities puts bets on a couple of things: that it is better to work as a group, debating ideas, and that it is better to take our working environment into account.

Perdita Phillips,  “Lithic love: Listen to the rocks”, The Architectural Review, published online 14 April 2022, pp. 38-39, https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/lithic-love,

Is it possible to love and care for coal in the anthropocene? Unless in tragic farce, it would seem not. But I have lived in close proximity to the lithic – to sand and rock and stone – with an implicit conditioning in geophilia. My house is full of rocks; my childhood holidays were spent with my family looking for gemstones. Later I worked in environmental management in the mining industry.

Libby Robin, “Being Still” in Natasha Fijn and Jan Reinder Fijn Between Hope and Despair, (Catalogue edited Gabrielle Hall-Lomax), Canberra 2022: Exhibition PhotoAccess 21 April—21 May 2022, https://www.gallery.photoaccess.org.au/between-hope-and-despair.

Between Hope and Despair forms a juxtaposition between two photographic series, each documenting a place immediately after a time of crisis. Fijn contrasts her observations of temperate Australian forest recovering from the devastating 2020 bushfires with her grandfather’s, Jan Reinder Fijn, record of the American liberation of Nazi-occupied Maastricht in 1945.

Marine and Freshwater Environments

Alessandro Antonello, “Antarctic Krill and the Temporalities of Oceanic Abundance, 1930s–1960s”, Isis 113 (2/2022), pp. 245-265, https://researchnow.flinders.edu.au/en/publications/antarctic-krill-and-the-temporalities-of-oceanic-abundance-1930s1.

In the decades after World War II, oceans were envisioned as sites of resource abundance that would underpin global development. This essay investigates Antarctic krill and its potential “surplus” as one articulation of this abundance, attending to the cultural and epistemic strategies at play in constituting this ocean abundance. Concentrating on the work of Neil Mackintosh, a world-leading British whale biologist working within governmental scientific bodies, this essay identifies temporal imaginings and sensibilities as being central to his claims around krill abundance and its seeming surplus in the context of whale stocks significantly diminished through overexploitation. Mackintosh’s temporalities of abundance were generated in three overlapping and mutually reinforcing sites: the archive of the colonial scientific survey he worked for, the decades of his career, and the recovery of polar seal populations. The story of the krill surplus and the temporalities underpinning it allows for a more complex reckoning with ideas of scarcity and abundance as well as further demonstrating the need to see the temporalities at work in constituting environments and the scientific labor in them.

Alison Bashford, “World History and the Tasman Sea”, American Historical Review 126 (3/2021), pp. 922 – 948, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ahr/rhab356.

Tracking and analyzing connection and mobility are now conventional in oceanic and world historiography and in many Indigenous historiographies. This article offers a counterargument and counterinstance. On both sides of the Tasman Sea lie human histories of almost incommensurably different temporal orders, separate for several centuries and suddenly connected in 1770, when Polynesians and Aboriginal people met. The Tasman Sea turns out to be one of the more fascinating fault lines for world historians who seek to fold ancient and modern, so-called prehistory and history, together into new periodizations of deep time and shallow time. It suggests the need seriously to consider a Tasman Divide as much as a connected Tasman World. This article recasts James Cook’s crossing of the Tasman Sea in 1770 less as a significant first contact between Englishmen and Indigenous Australians on that coast and more as a meeting of three peoples who occupied radically different temporalities: (1) the Polynesian Tupaia, (2) the Englishman James Cook, and (3) Aboriginal people whose names we do not know.

David A. Stroud, Nick C. Davidson, Max Finlayson and

Royal C. Gardner, “Development of the text of the Ramsar Convention: 1965–1971” Marine and Freshwater Research, published online 13 May 2022, https://doi.org/10.1071/MF21312.

The ‘Ramsar’ Convention on Wetlands was the first of the modern era global biodiversity conventions and remains the only multilateral environmental agreement focused on a single group of ecosystem types. At the time of initial

discussions within the wetland conservation science community in the late 1960s, its ambition was unprecedented, with no successful models to draw upon, especially with regard to novel concepts such as the modus for an ‘internationally protected site’. Drawing on previously unpublished draft texts, we track the Convention’s textual development to its ultimate agreement in 1971. During this period its geographic scope changed from an initial European to global focus, whereas core obligations related to the designation of internationally important wetlands and the provision of secretariat coordination functions were substantively developed. We present (as supplementary material) all draft texts, from 1965 to 1971, previously unavailable online.

Clara Obregón, Joseph Christensen, Dirk Zeller, Michael Hughes, James R. Tweedley, Andrea Gaynor and Neil R. Loneragan, “Local fisher knowledge reveals changes in size of blue swimmer crabs in small-scale fisheries”, Marine Policy 143 (September 2022), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2022.105144.

Fisheries stock status is generally based on time series catch and effort data sourced from independent surveys and the fishery. These methods are often expensive and can be limited temporally and spatially. Alternative methods include the use of local fisher knowledge (LFK) to identify observed changes in catch. The blue swimmer crab (Portunus armatus) supports a small-scale commercial fishery and one of the most popular recreational fisheries in south-western Australia. Previous studies identified concerns from recreational fishers over its long-term sustainability. To understand if fishers’ perceptions of change provide useful information on actual changes in the fisheries, a triangulation approach was used to assess changes in size and abundance of crabs in two estuaries (Peel-Harvey and Swan-Canning). Three types of data were used: (i) fisher recollections from 1940s to 2010s, including face-to-face interviews and online surveys; (ii) historical records from newspaper articles from 1900 to 2000; and (iii) quantitative data on size between 2006/07 and 2018/19. Results identified: (i) crabs were smaller in the Peel-Harvey, a consistent difference identified in all data sources; (ii) crab size was perceived to have decreased in the Peel-Harvey; (iii) inter-generational differences in fishers’ perceptions regarding size changes over time; and (iv) historical evidence of persistent fishers’ concerns and perceptions of changes in the fishery and wider environment. These findings are evidence of a likely decline in the average size of crabs in south-western Australia over the last century, particularly in the Peel-Harvey, and demonstrate that LFK may be a valuable source of information particularly when other data sources are lacking.

Heather Downey, Evelien Spelten, Katie Holmes, Julia Van Vuuren, “A Rapid Review of Recreational, Cultural, and Environmental Meanings of Water for Australian River Communities”, Society and Natural Resources 35 (2022), pp. 556-574, https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2022.2032894.

While many studies have explored the value of water, little is known concerning the meaning of water for Australian river communities. This rapid literature review provides an overview of the recreational, cultural, and environmental meaning of water for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian river communities and notes important connections between these relationships. Consequently, this review adds a critical dimension to water management debates by privileging community voices. Most papers explored cultural and environmental aspects rather than recreational relationships with water, with the majority of papers exploring Indigenous cultural and environmental meanings of water and fewer papers focusing on these meanings of water for non-Indigenous people. Our review shows that the meanings of water are understood very differently in cultures, with Indigenous water relationships marginalized by a dominant culture. Understanding the multiple dimensions of hydro-social relationships is critical to socially and environmentally just water management and to people’s health.

Sue Jackson, “Caring for Waterscapes in the Anthropocene: Heritage-making at Budj Bim, Victoria, Australia.” Environment and History, published online 15 April 2022, https://doi.org/10.3197/096734022X16384451127393.

Australian waterscapes were fashioned to meet human needs during the ancient Aboriginal past through the construction of weirs, fish traps and small dams and accompanying socio-cultural practices and institutions. Exemplary amongst Australian water cultures was that of the Gunditjmara of western Victoria, who for thousands of years practiced a sophisticated form of swamp engineering and eel farming in the volcanic landscapes of Budj Bim. Within 150 years of Europeancolonisation, frontier violence, dispossession and hydrological alteration had put an end to the most extensive and oldest aquaculture system in the world. Recent land and water restitution measures enacted in collaborative partnerships with the wider watershed community have enabled the Gunditjmara to restore the Budj Bim wetlands and rebuild their nation. This process entails re-storying engineering and eeling: cultural practices and connections are being retold to gain recognition for the capacity to negotiate change and adapt to geological, climatological and imperial forces. Critical theory and concepts relating to waterscapes, hydro-social relations and the Anthropocene assist in interpreting the resilient efforts of a rural community to retrieve its history and find new ways to care for the past as well as the future.

Natural History

Vanessa Finney, Jarrod Hore and Simon Ville. “Chains of Custody, Oceans of Instability: The Precarious Logistics of the Natural History Trade.” Journal of World History 33, (1/2022), pp. 103-137, https://doi.org/10.1353/jwh.2022.0003.

A global trade in zoological specimens arose from the expansion of natural history collecting in the nineteenth century. This paper examines the precarious logistics faced by the trans-continental movement of these often fragile specimens. Cycles of trans-shipment and oceanic passages, transfers along chains of custody, all threatened physical and informational loss. We investigate these challenges from the perspective of a major institution seeking to build an international collection through purchase and exchange from distant parts of the globe, notably the Australian Museum in Sydney. Appropriating the infrastructures of major commodity trades, drawing on modernizing shipping and communications technologies, and enlisting government support of public science all helped. Where failure nonetheless occurred, scientific networks in many cases provided the trust necessary to reach an agreeable resolution. In examining these conditions of the natural history trade during an earlier era of globalization, this study brings histories of science, trade, and logistics together in new ways.

Plants and Fungi

Libby Robin, “Wattle” (Chapter 14), In Melissa Harper and Richard White (eds), Symbols of a Nation: Imagining a Nation (Sydney: NewSouth 2021), pp. 189-214, https://www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/symbols-of-australia-118496/.

Mike Roche, ”Eucalypts in New Zealand”, Australian Forest History Newsletter 85 (2022), pp. 5-8,


Having from time-to-time spoken about New Zealand indigenous tree species at Australian Forest History Society conferences or written about them in the newsletter, at the back of my mind was also lurking the question of when were Eucalypts first grown in New Zealand? Along with Monterey Cypress (Cupressus Macrocarpa) known just as “Macrocarpa”, numerous “Blue Gums” were a feature of the Canterbury landscapes of my childhood. Farmers planted both species for shelter and firewood. But answering some elementary questions about what species, and when and where Eucalypts were first introduced to New Zealand has proven surprisingly fraught.

Urban Environments, Gardens and Parks

Margaret Cook, Lionel Frost, Andrea Gaynor, Jenny Gregory, Ruth A. Morgan, Martin Shanahan and Peter Spearitt, Cities in a Sunburnt Country. Water and the Making of Urban Australia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022), https://www.cambridge.org/au/academic/subjects/history/environmental-history/cities-sunburnt-country-water-and-making-urban-australia?format=HB&isbn=9781108831581.

As Australian cities face uncertain water futures, what insights can the history of Aboriginal and settler relationships with water yield? Residents have come to expect reliable, safe, and cheap water, but natural limits and the costs of maintaining and expanding water networks are at odds with forms and cultures of urban water use. Cities in a Sunburnt Country is the first comparative study of the provision, use, and social impact of water and water infrastructure in Australia’s five largest cities. Drawing on environmental, urban, and economic history, this co-authored book challenges widely held assumptions, both in Australia and around the world, about water management, consumption, and sustainability. From the ‘living water’ of Aboriginal cultures to the rise of networked water infrastructure, the book invites us to take a long view of how water has shaped our cities, and how urban water systems and cultures might weather a warming world.

Yuqi Yang, Maria Ignatieva and Andrea Gaynor,“Design and Conservation Strategies for Urban Biodiversity in Australian Botanic Gardens: 澳大利亚植物园中的城市生物多样性设计与保护策略”, Landscape Architecture 29 (1/2022), pp. 34-48, https://research-repository.uwa.edu.au/en/publications/design-and-conservation-strategies-for-urban-biodiversity-in-aust.

Due to the differences in landscape origins, physical environment conditions, and socio-economic development, there are different approaches to understanding urban biodiversity and the way it intersects with ecological design approaches in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Australian native plant communities have thrived in this continent for millennia and formed a unique landscape of very high biodiversity. Botanic gardens are venerable institutions that have evolved through the years, adapting to cultural and social demands. The planning and design of botanic gardens are affected by political, economic and social perceptions as well as by individual designers. Botanic gardens reflect the dynamic character of scientific knowledge, and changes in the aesthetic expressions of human cultures over time. Botanic gardens therefore offer a unique vision of how different social groups have used and valued plants in the past. The recent ecological design approaches of botanic gardens reflect a new vision of valuing and protecting biodiversity. This paper reviews the biodiversity benefits of botanic gardens. It discusses the changes of design focus to demonstrate biodiversity, using case studies in Australia. The design history of Australian botanic gardens, Australia’s native biodiversity, and biodiversity-focused design solutions are discussed and analysed. It offers a framework for understanding local biodiversity and developing designing strategies for demonstration preservation strategies in botanic gardens. The research outcomes of this paper provides a new angle which allows to rethink and reinforce “biodiversity” in designing a botanic garden.

Technology and the Environment

Mark Butz, “Canberra’s ill-fated City railway: a particularly sorry tale”, Engineering Heritage Australia Magazine, 4 (1/2022), https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2022-02/EHA_Magazine_Vol4_No1_January_2022.pdf.

Railway development has been a rather neglected aspect of Canberra’s history, known mainly to a few enthusiasts, and the effect of landscape and environment on its form and durability has been infrequently canvassed.  This article recounts some largely-forgotten rail heritage, taking in the original Queanbeyan-Canberra railway, the lost City railway (tramway), and iterations of Brickworks tramways that helped to build the city in the 1920s.  It reflects on interactions between the landscape and railway alignments (planned and actual), and how long-abandoned alignments have remained visible in the city form.  It explains how design idealism and administrative rivalries combined with flooding of the Molonglo River to challenge, and ultimately thwart, railway design in this model planned city.   



Warwick Anderson, M. Susan Lindee, “Decolonizing Histories of Genetics?”, University of California Press, published online 11 January 2022, https://www.ucpress.edu/blog/53856/decolonizing-histories-of-genetics.

Robert Onfray, https://www.robertonfray.com/2022/.

Contains regular updates on a variety of topics including forestry, rabbits, mining and other matters.


Rachel Goldlust and Stephen Pasoe, “‘Not Just a Lockdown Hobby’: The making of the renters and housing union”, Overland, published online 16 May 2022, https://overland.org.au/2022/05/not-just-a-lockdown-hobby-the-making-of-the-renters-and-housing-union/.


Alessandro Antonello, Ice, heroes, and history in virtual reality, History Australia, e-pub ahead of print, https://researchnow.flinders.edu.au/en/publications/ice-heroes-and-history-in-virtual-reality.

Heather Goodall, “Environmental Blockades: Obstructive Direct Action and the History of the Environmental Movement”, History Australia 19 (1/2022), https://doi.org/10.1080/14490854.2022.2028566.

Jarrod Hore, “Empire’s Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad”, Australasian Journal of American Studies 40, (2/2021), pp. 141-145, https://www.jstor.org/stable/48649233.

Jarrod Hore, “Wetlands in a Dry Land: More-Than-Human Histories of Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin”, Australian Historical Studies 53 (2/2022, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2022.2051231.

Libby Robin,  “Mickie and her Monkey: A complicated family history”, Australian Book Review 440 (March 2022), pp 49-50, https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/abr-online/current-issue/975-march-2022-no-440/8884-libby-robin-reviews-delia-akeley-and-the-monkey-a-human-animal-story-of-captivity-patriarchy-and-nature-by-iain-mccalman.