By Ruth Morgan
In this edition of our publication’s round-up, we have much to celebrate. First, we should toast Billy Griffiths, Rebecca Jones, and Ian Tyrrell whose books were shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and New South Wales Premier’s History Awards. Rebecca also joined Tom Griffiths on ABC’s Radio National to discuss the history of drought policy in light of the long dry in New South Wales and Queensland. We must also raise a glass or two to colleagues who have recently launched their books – among them, Joy McCann with Wild Sea, and Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley with their co-edited collection, Animals Count, which featured many of members of our Network. Joy spoke with the New Books Network podcast series about her book earlier this month, and Animals Count was the subject of a roundtable in the Green Stream at the Australian Historical Association’s conference at the ANU in July. We also have two special issues of the International Review of Environmental History, the first co-edited by Alessandro Antonello and Ruth Morgan on the theme of ‘Bodies of Knowledge’, and the second, co-edited by Fiona Williamson and Chris Courtney, on ‘Disasters Fast and Slow’. Finally, we pay our respects to David Lowenthal, whose final work will be published by Routledge later this year.
Antontello, Alessandro. “Glaciological Bodies: Australian Visions of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 1 (2018): 125-44.
“Building upon work in environmental history and the history of science that has critically investigated the relationships between humans and ice, this article approaches the history of the Antarctic ice sheet through the particular experiences, practices and ideas of Australian glaciologists between the late 1940s and late 1980s. It seeks to understand the co-constitution of glaciological bodies—that is, the ways in which the work and search for standing and authority of individual scientists and scientific and political institutions (both scholarly and governmental) has also constituted our knowledge and sensibilities regarding the Antarctic ice sheet, the largest body of ice on Earth. This article reveals the origins of glaciology in Australia in both the heroic and nationalist stance of Douglas Mawson and others, as well as the German geographical and meteorological research traditions of Fritz Loewe. It continues by exploring the tensions between traditions of geographical research embodied by Loewe and cutting-edge developments in computational power and modelling the ice sheet emerging in the 1960s. It also demonstrates how Australian glaciologists had to navigate both the international demands of the discipline of glaciology alongside the demands of their paymasters in the Australian Government regarding territory and sovereignty in Antarctica. Thus, this article illuminates some of the multiple visions of the Antarctic ice sheet in the second half of the twentieth century, and the necessity of understanding its constitution in environmental and scientific thought by many actors.”
Antonello, Alessandro and Morgan, Ruth A. “Making and Unmaking Bodies: Embodying Knowledge and Place in Environmental History.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 1 (2018): 55-67.
“We open this special issue ‘Bodies of Knowledge’ by invoking the recent history and deep past of the reef—a vast earthly body under siege. What Attenborough’s exploration of the reef highlighted was the gulf between knowing about the reef’s challenges and acting upon that knowledge. He wondered, ‘do we really care so little about the earth upon which we live that we don’t wish to protect one of its greatest wonders from the consequences of our behaviours?’ In bridging this gap, the historian Iain McCalman suggests that environmental history has a valuable affective role to play by making the past meaningful to the present and the future. A meaningful or ‘passionate history’, as McCalman shows in his own biography of the reef, is one that populates or embodies the past. We take to the reef ourselves to illuminate the historiographical and conceptual issues that animate the contributions to this special issue. What we know about environments, and how we know them, affects the ways we relate to and engage with them, and how we embody them, physically and culturally, over time.”
Brennan, Claire. “Australia’s Northern Safari.” M/C Journal 20, no. 6 (2017).
“This article explores the connection between adventure in Australia’s north and the large animals of the region. Keith Adams’s film, Northern Safari, capitalised on popular interest in natural history, but his film is only one link in a chain of representations of the Australian north as a place of dangerous and charismatic megafauna. While over time interest shifted from being largely concentrated on the presence of buffalo in the Northern Territory to a fascination with the saltwater crocodiles found more widely in northern Australia that interest in dangerous prey animals is significant to Australia’s northern imaginary.”
Chalmer, Nicole. “A Swarm of Sheep: Colonising the Esperance Bioregion.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 56-70. London: Routledge, 2018.
“The Anglo/European colonisation of the Esperance bioregion was undertaken using a linked animal-human system that enabled the invasion and occupation of Aboriginal lands. It exemplifies Alfred Crosby’s concept of ecological imperialism, where large numbers of domestic herbivores helped invading colonists take over new landscapes. Elinor Melville’s book, A Plague of Sheep, traces this process in Mexico in the sixteenth century when the Spanish claimed the land from Indigenous peoples with the help of sheep as biological co-invaders. Similar mechanisms were used throughout much of the Australian frontal wave of invasion, as large herds of sheep and cattle helped colonists expand their range, with comparable environmental impacts on nature and Aboriginal peoples. The early Esperance bioregion pastoralists used their sheep swarms to invade the lands of the Nyungar and Ngadju Aboriginal peoples. Because they employed locally adaptive behaviours, including eco-shepherding learnt from Aboriginal people, their early environmental impacts were not as immediately devastating as elsewhere, but within decades, the cultural drive for economic growth and a lack of critical understanding about impacts of excess sheep stocking rates facilitated an ungulate eruption that contributed to the collapse of ecosystems and Aboriginal social ecological systems.”
Conterio, Johanna. “Our Black Sea Coast: The Sovietization of the Black Sea Littoral and the Problem of Overdevelopment.” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 19, no. 2 (2018): 327-361.
“This article explores the Sovietization of the Black Sea coast as a project of what Elidor Mëhilli has called ‘socialist design.’ Mëhilli explains the commonalities of urban design in the Eastern bloc by pointing to the participation of Eastern bloc experts in the forging of urban d
esign, arguing that there was an ‘earnest effort to devise a common planning model and architectural vocabulary across socialist space.’ As Mëhilli wrote, the project of urban design unfolded through an ongoing process of exchange: ‘The resulting “socialist design” was an amalgam produced by formal and informal exchange, an institutionalized logic of planning, invention, and imported technology but also a self-induced competition with the capitalist West.’ Socialist design was the result of an ongoing process of exchange over time. How did the Black Sea coast become a shared socialist space for health and well-being? In this article, I explore socialist design in the area of leisure architecture and urban planning and the characteristics of leisure design that emerged through this process of circulation. Within the framework of socialist design, I draw attention to the interconnection of scales of activity. Through the lens of the Black Sea, one can trace the relationship between domestic architectural policies and policies of the socialist world and the cultural Cold War, showing how each scale of activity influenced and was interconnected with the other.”
Cook, Margaret. “John Baillie Henderson: A Hydrologist in Colonial Brisbane.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 1 (2018): 69-92.
“John Baillie Henderson, Queensland Government Hydraulic Engineer (1883–1914), influenced the development of hydrology in south-east Queensland by successfully combining state imperatives with an understanding of the local environment. Science became entwined with nation-building where the applied nature of hydrological engineering fostered development and addressed local concerns in a regio
n characterised by drought and flood. Henderson, as part of a global scientific community, appreciated the importance of local climatic variation and substantially increased hydrological knowledge in Queensland at the turn of the twentieth century.”
Cushing, Nancy. “‘Cunning, Intractable, Destructive Animals”: Pigs as co-colonisers in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, 1840-60.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 113-25. London: Routledge, 2018.
“This chapter is the first to draw attention to the wider role of pigs in the Australian colonial project. Its focus is on their presence in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales in the mid-nineteenth century, where they were seen as both an asset and as “most cunning, intractable, destructive animals”. This tension between the two guises of pigs created a sense within the settler colonial culture that they were in equilibrium, and those who spoke against them did not call for reductions in their numbers but for containment to curtail their damage to crops, property and settlers themselves, preferably behind stoutly built pig-proof fences. What was overlooked was the other aspect of their destructiveness, that which took place outside of the fences, in the fertile swamps and gullies of the region. There, from the perspective of the existing ecology and the Indigenous people who relied upon it, any number of pigs was excessive.”
Cushing, Nancy and Frawley, Jodi. “Why Count Animals?” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 1-12. London: Routledge, 2018.
“In this collection, we explore how the size of an animal population impacts the ways in which they have been viewed in settler co
lonial Australia, and, conversely, how perceptions of the correctness of animal populations have effects on animals. Playing on the double meaning of our title, we also seek to demonstrate that just as animals are not passively looked at but actively return that gaze, they are not only objects to be counted but also subjects who count. Although Berger argued that animals in the postmodern world were incapable of looking back at humans, others have rejected this premise, including Derrida, who reflected on the meaning of the shame he felt when looked upon, naked, by his cat. The unflinching appraisal by the cat reminds us that animals have their own historical roles and take actions that have consequences. In both regards, drawing attention to how animals count is timely in the Anthropocene, as attention turns to precipitous falls in the numbers of many free-living species, unprecedented rises in populations of intensively farmed animals and shifts in the populations of those being pushed into new areas by habitat loss and climate change. Animals will continue to count and be counted as we struggle to learn how to share dwindling living space and resources.”
Damodaran, Vinita, Allan, Rob, Ogilvie, Astrid. E.J., Demarée, Gaston R., Gergis, Joëlle, Mikami, Takehiko, Mikhail, Alan, Nicholson, Sharon E., Norrgård, Stefan and Hamilton, James. “The 1780s: Global Climate Anomalies, Floods, Droughts, and Famines.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Climate History, edited by Sam White, Christian Pfister and Franz Mauelshagen, 517-50. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
“This chapter focuses on the 1780s to early 1790s, a particularly interesting period climatically, which also saw the development of the first systematic instrumental weather observations in many locations. These are complemented by extensive documentary evidence covering many parts of the globe including, for example, Iceland, Japan, India, and Australia, as well as numerous European locations. This combination of evidence enables us to analyse specific climate drivers during this period. Particular attention is given here to the role played by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) because extreme phases of the ENSO cycle frequently result in severe weather conditions around large parts of the world. This chapter examines the climatic and socioeconomic effects of the Laki volcanic fissure eruption that occurred in Iceland in 1783–84. Several case studies then detail subsequent climatic events in Europe, India, Australia, Japan, and Africa (including Egypt), as well as attendant societal impacts, including agricultural losses, disease, and famine.”
de Deckker, Patrick. “On the Long Ignored Scientific Achievements of the Belgica expedition, 1897-1899.” Polar Research 37, no. 1 (2018): doi:10.1080/17518369.2018.1474695
“The Belgica expedition, which left Belgium in August 1897, was the first to spend 13 months continuously in Antarctic waters, before returning in late 1899. This was not only an exploratory venture, as new lands and oceans were charted, but more importantly it was an exceptional and successful scientific voyage. After the return of the expedition, a vast array of scientific data was processed and eventually 92 publications in some nine volumes funded by the Belgica Commission appeared over 40 years as a series called Résultats du voyage de la Belgica en 1897–99 sous le commandement de A. de Gerlache de Gomery – rapports scientifiques. Disappointingly, those significant results have been mostly ignored in the scientific literature and the paper here aims to inform scientists of the achievements of the Belgica expedition and where to obtain the information. Many of the climatological and oceanographic data obtained by the expeditioners ought to be examined in line with the changes that are occurring today in the Antarctic Peninsula region as a result of global warming. Some of the Belgica data form an important database to critically assess environmental changes over 120 years in the region of the Antarctic Peninsula.”
Frawley, Jodi. “The Palatability of Pests: Redfin in the Murray-Darling Basin.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 168-80. London: Routledge, 2018.
“This chapter emerges from Talking Fish, an oral history project conducted in the Murray-Darling Basin in 2010–11. A multidisciplinary team of aquatic ecologists, natural resource managers, a radio producer and two environmental historians conducted fieldwork in twelve sites across the Murray-Darling Basin. The project drew oral history participants from local fishing communities of recreational, Aboriginal and professional fishers, who shared life narratives shaped by their fishing along these river systems. To them, the native/exotic divide registered as a contemporary, not historical, concern. Instead, fishers recalled enjoying redfin as one of a suite of native and introduced fish that were plentiful over the twentieth century. Once redfin populations diminished and became scarcer, in contradistinction to the prevailing wisdom of conservation biology, fishers framed this change as a loss. These oral histories, with their recording of fishers’ laments for the redfin, capture histories of fish populations that are not based on the rigid divides of science.”
Gall, Adam. “On the Ant Frontier: Ontological Conflict with Iridomyrmex humilis in post-war Sydney.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 41-55. London: Routledge, 2018.
“This chapter narrates the history of Argentine ants as domestic pests within urban and suburban space in post-World War II Sydney, Australia. Although pest control initiatives are hardly unusual in twentieth-century history, the Argentine ant eradication campaign was distinctive for its degree of publicity, the creation of a dedicated bureaucratic organ – the Argentine Ant Eradication Committee (AAEC) – and for its metropolitan, rather than rural, focus. Although ant pests, and particularly the Argentine ant, are historical actors whose actions are legible across multiple scales of time and space from the everyday to the depths of evolutionary time, the campaign itself ended but not because of the activities of ants. Instead, contradictions between public and bureaucratic practices of environmentalism, each dependent upon different assumptions about time and risk in relation to pesticide use, halted spraying. Once public support could no longer be mobilised by fears of the excessive numbers of ants and their threatening mobility, the persistence of organochlorines in soil and animals became a matter of greater concern. By focusing its narration on ants and the humans who sought to eradicate them across the post-World War II period, this chapter participates in a broader shift towards entangled, more-than-human accounts of past, present and future.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Taking Locust Country.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 26-40. London: Routledge, 2018.
“In this chapter, I propose that the Australian war on locusts presents an extreme case of the general pattern of agricultural and pastoral colonisation of Australia, which involved occupation of country and pacification of the indigenous plants, animals and people through military, scientific and other means. From the beginning of colonisation, military metaphors and strategies have been deployed to achieve control of unruly and insurrectionary spaces and especially indigenous threats from the interior. This settler-colonial mindset combined with longstanding associations between locusts and warfare to make the Australian war on locusts a potent symbol of settler ambitions. This chapter follows the ways in which conceptual and material connections between war on people and war on locusts changed with Australia’s various military engagements, from the colonial invasion and occupation of Indigenous territory to the early twenty-first-century war on terror. As James Scott points out, ‘the nature of military threat requires clearly defined and easily monitored and patrolled state spaces’. As the potential extent of locust outbreak areas in the interior was increasingly recognised in the mid-twentieth century, so was the state’s inability to monitor, let alone control, such vast areas. But from the 1970s, after three decades of almost uninterrupted engagement in warfare overseas, Australia was finally achieving the centralised control and increasingly the technological means to make the unruly inland a state space. As the ongoing locust threat, however, this project is far from complete.”
Gergis, Joëlle, Ashcroft, Linden. and Garden, Donald. “Recent Developments in Australian Climate History.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Climate History, edited by Sam White, Christian Pfister and Franz Mauelshagen, 237-45. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
“There have been considerable advances in historical climatology in Australia over the past decade. Recent interdisciplinary research using documentary and early instrumental records has identified twenty-four new drought events and seventeen major wet periods for eastern New South Wales over the 1788–1899 period. These results provide the first opportunity to use well-verified historical Australian rainfall data in long-term global drought studies. While considerable progress has been made using material collected from the main population centres of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Queensland, there is still great potential to recover more colonial-era data from many parts of the country.”
Gergis, Joëlle. Sunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2018.
“What was Australia’s climate like before official weather records began? How do scientists use tree-rings, ice cores and tropical corals to retrace the past? What do Indigenous seasonal calendars reveal? And what do settler diary entries about rainfall, droughts, bushfires and snowfalls tell us about natural climate cycles? Sunburnt Country pieces together Australia’s climate history for the first time. It uncovers a continent long vulnerable to climate extremes and variability. It gives an unparalleled perspective on how human activities have altered patterns that have been with us for millions of years, and what climate change looks like in our own backyard. Sunburnt Country highlights the impact of a warming planet on Australian lifestyles and ecosystems and the power we all have to shape future life on Earth.”
Goldlust, Rachel. “Against ‘Neo-Peasantry’ and the Desire for Self-Sufficiency.” Overland April 16, 2018.
“Though I’m sympathetic to the desire to move towards self-sufficiency and self-reliance for many of the same anti-modernity reasons that have seen a growth in dissatisfaction with industrialised capitalism and a desire to find an alternative, it is important to acknowledge the problems of such a trend. As the Sydney Morning Herald observed last year, in a piece titled ‘We might wake up and find the peasants are revolting’, as globalisation cleaves an economic canyon between the poorer working class, and the educated and comfortable, it’s important to recognise historical structures of class embedded in decisions to seek out and look for change, which comes as a privilege and not always a right.”
Goodall, Heather. “Working Rivers.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 1 (2018): 111-24.
“For many people, rivers are understood and expected to fulfil functions—to ‘work’ in some sense. The word ‘work’ itself is loaded with emotion and value judgement, but beyond this, it is often the case that the work in which people are employed shapes the way they see and value rivers. This paper considers five different ways in which different groups of people in rural New South Wales, eastern Australia, might identify the work that rivers do, including irrigation, carrying nutrients, nurturing fish, offering livelihoods for humans and expressing cultural values. In considering this work, this article draws on the views of irrigators, pastoralists, fishers, scientists and Aboriginal people—who might themselves be involved as irrigators, pastoralists or scientists, and certainly as fishers. This article explores the ways in which employment—the work these people might do—has given them particular ways to see the river. For some, their own employment has narrowed the aspects of rivers that they value, leading them to disregard much about the flow of water across the landscape. For others, the mobility or economic marginality of their work has allowed them to see rivers in a far wider context than has been the case for others.”
Harris, David. “A Slow Catastrophe? Fishing for Sport and Commerce in Colonial Victoria.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 155-67. London: Routledge, 2018.
“This chapter explores the commercial and recreational exploitation of the marine and riverine fisheries in Victoria during a period of rapid economic, social and political change that characterised the last half of the nineteenth century. I argue that the meeting of commercial and recreational fishing interests in nineteenth-century Victoria highlighted tensions in colonial society over how the colony’s fishery should be harvested and how it should be managed. Key participants in the debates were the fish acclimatisation societies and angling clubs, colonial politicians, local tourism interests and a loose alliance of commercial fishers. Complicating the debate was the absence of any scientific fieldwork into the fishery or any accurate indication of how many fish were being taken by anglers or commercial fishers.”
Jones, Rebecca, Lee, Sarah, Maybery, Darryl and McPhalane, Alexander. “Experiences of a Prolonged Coal-Mine Fire.” Disaster Prevention and Management (2018): doi:10.1108/DPM-05-2018-0145
“The purpose of this paper is to examine the perspectives of local residents regarding the impact of the long-duration Hazelwood open cut coal mine fire in rural Australia. A qualitative approach was undertaken involving 27 in-depth interviews with adults who lived in the town of Morwell, immediately adjacent to the coal mine fire. Participant concerns focussed upon fear and confusion during the event, the perceived health effects of the smoke, anger towards authorities and loss of a sense of community and sense of security. One of the significant ways in which people managed these responses was to normalise the event. The long duration of the event created deep uncertainty which exaggerated the impact of the fire.”
Jones, Rebecca. “Uncertainty and the Emotional Landscape of Drought.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 2 (2018): 13-26.
“Drought is the most ubiquitous climatic phenomenon in Australia, and the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were decades of particularly frequent and persistent drought in south-eastern Australia. While the financial and environmental cost of drought has been well documented by historians, less attention has been paid to the emotional landscape of drought. These effects share much with other types of environmental adversity; however, droughts are slow catastrophes that generate a particularly profound level of uncertainty. This paper explores emotional responses to drought from the 1890s to the 1940s as well as some of the ways in which people coped with and attempted to ameliorate these emotions. I argue that drought elicits a wide range of emotions, but that the dominant experience of drought and the source of many of these emotions was uncertainty, provoked by the particularly ambivalent, incremental character of drought. Farmers are, arguably, the group whose well-being depends most directly on climate extremes and are therefore the group upon which I will focus this paper. Personal sources such as diaries and correspondence provide a window into the lived experience of drought and a rich picture of the emotional landscape of settler-colonisers in Australia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”
Karskens, Grace. “Fire in the Forests? Exploring the Human-Ecological History of Australia’s First Frontier.” Environment and History (2018): doi:10.3197/096734018X15254461646378
“In his landmark book The Biggest Estate on Earth, historian Bill Gammage argues that before the arrival of white settlers, the whole Australian continent was a manicured cultural landscape, shaped and maintained by precise, deliberate and repeated fires. In Aboriginal hands, fire made the entire country ‘beautiful and comfortable’, and so Australia was one vast ‘estate’, a giant ‘park’, a series of ‘farms without fences’. These words imply that Aboriginal rights to land are closely tied to universal fire regimes. Gammage’s book has been well-received and celebrated. But it has also polarised debates on fire regimes, especially the extent to which fire really did shape every corner of the continent, and the related assertion that contemporary ecologies are the result of the cessation of fire since 1788. This paper integrates ethnographic history and archaeology with geography, soil science and ecology in order to set Gammage’s model against a particular ecological zone – the dense River-flat Forests that once lined Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury-Nepean River in New South Wales, Australia. Dyarubbin was occupied by Aboriginal people for perhaps 50,000 years, and from 1794 it became the site of the first major settler farming frontier. Paying attention to the local and the particular, this paper asks: was this fiercely contested country a tidy mosaic of open forests, water and grasslands created by cultural fire? Was Aboriginal burning here extensive or limited? What aspects of human and ecological history might be obscured by the universalising model in which cultural fire dominates above all other factors? Did the Aboriginal landscape in turn shape the settler one, and what were the consequences for land and people?”
Kass, Dorothy. “The Nature Study Idea: Framing nature for children in early twentieth century schools.” In Framing the Environmental Humanities, edited by Hannes Bergthaller and Peter Mortenson, 221-37. Leiden: Brill, Rodopi, 2018.
“Nature study, a new subject for elementary schools throughout the English speaking world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, introduced natural science to children through new methods of pedagogy, including direct observation and reasoning, and self-activity. The subject, however, was differentiated from elementary science by its embrace of aesthetic appreciation and an aim to foster an emotional response to nature, often referred to as “sympathy.” Scientific observation and reasoning, aesthetic appreciation, and sympathy with nature clearly and consistently defined the subject, and may be seen as comprising a particular frame through which children could regard nature. Amongst its diverse aims, nature study included a conservation ethic: as children came to understand nature, they would want to care for and protect it. In the state of New South Wales, Australia, nature study was introduced to a new syllabus in 1904 as required teaching for all classes of the centrally administered public elementary schools. While various types of evidence allow the historian to analyse nature study in practice, in this paper rare examples of children’s writing about nature are introduced as one way of approaching how nature study and its particular frame for regarding the natural world was received and responded to by children.”
Kitson, Janine. “Seeing the Wild Light.” National Parks Association of New South Wales. June 1, 2018.
“For over fifty years Henry Gold has been the NSW environment movement’s most eminent landscape photographer, providing spectacular images to support protection of threatened wilderness and natural areas across NSW and beyond. As an avid bushwalker and photographer Henry knows Australian wilderness intimately. As well as being artistically appealing, Henry’s photographs have been influential in campaigns for wilderness preservation
and the World Heritage listing of the Greater Blue Mountains and the NSW rainforests. Since 1967, when Henry’s photos featured in the campaign to save the Colong Caves in the southern Blue Mountains, conservation groups have benefited significantly from his images.”
Knight, Catherine. Beyond Manapouri: 50 years of environmental politics in New Zealand. Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2018.
“This book traces the evolution of environmental administration in New Zealand since the dawn of the ‘environmental era’ in the late 1960s. The national campaign to stop the government from raising the water level in the scenically spectacular Lake Manapouri for a hydro dam is widely credited with the awakening of environmental awareness in New Zealand. Since then, New Zealand has established institutions and legislation dedicated to managing our environment, and the public’s ability to participate in environmental decision-making has been strengthened markedly. At the same time, New Zealanders’ knowledge and awareness of environmental issues have also increased. Even so, the latest reports on our environment indicate that all is not well: our waterways continue to deteriorate, our biodiversity is in decline and our greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb. Beyond Manapouri explains why, in spite of the legislation and institutions put in place to improve the stewardship of our environment, we’re now facing more urgent environmental issues than ever before.”
Kreplins, T.L., Gaynor, Andrea, Kennedy, M.S., Baudains, C.M., Adams, P., Bateman, P.W. and Fleming, P.A. “What to Call a Dog? A Review of the Common Names for Australian Free-Ranging Dogs.” Pacific Conservation Biology (2018): doi: 10.1071/PC18018.
“Wildlife research is informed by human values and interests, and these are reflected in, and reinforced by, the language used to describe particular species and animals. Examining factors that influence the use of common names of contentious taxa such free-ranging dogs is important, as naming can influence the design and reception of scientific studies. There are a range of common names for free-ranging dogs in Australian scientific literature but the most common names are ‘dingoes’ and ‘wild dogs’. This review investigated influences on the terminology used to describe Australian free-ranging dogs in scientific studies from October 1952 to January 2018. Using a multidimensional scaling analysis, we tested the effects of several potential factors on terminology around Australian free-ranging dogs. We found a significant correlation between studies that reported on ‘wild dog’ control within livestock production–focussed papers and the use of the term ‘dingo’ and discussion of mesopredator release in conservation-related papers. There was a bias associated with author employment, with studies funded by a livestock production organisation more likely to employ ‘wild dog’ terminology. Year of publication and dingo purity within the locale of the study made a lesser contribution to differences in terminology. Our study explores the contextual factors that influence the choice of common names in scientific papers. Although referring to the same species, this review highlights that common terminology within scientific papers is reliant on the discussion of mesopredators release, control programs and the paper’s context.”
Le Get, Rebecca. “Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia within the 19th century miasmatic landscape.” Australian Veterinary Journal 96, no. 8 (2018): 285-290.
“When contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) was first detected on a farm north of Melbourne, at Bundoora, in 1858, the predominant theory of miasma was being challenged by contagionist theories of disease transmission. This well‐documented case was recorded during a period of change in the scientific assessment of disease and therefore affords an exploration of what aspects of the landscape were considered important for livestock health at the time. Although the introduction, vaccination programs and eventual eradication of CBPP on mainland Australia has been well explored, scholars have neglected this aspect of the disease’s history. By comparing 19th century records of farmland with how the site appears today, it is also possible to highlight the limited information provided by contemporary texts, while at the same time developing an appreciation of the ways in which the perception of the rural landscape has changed. This differing perception has implications for the utilisation of these sources for veterinary and environmental historians seeking to understand the mid‐19th century agricultural landscape and how it relates to animal health.”
Le Get, Rebecca. “More than just ‘peaceful and picturesque’: How tuberculosis control measures have preserved ecologically significant land in Melbourne.” Victorian Historical Journal 89, no. 1 (2018): 67-87.
“Four government-run tuberculosis sanatoria, located within grassy eucalypt woodlands, once operated in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Their landholdings have been partially retained as bushland reserves because of their biodiversity. Yet the reasons for these four properties sharing similar ecology and institutional purposes are largely unknown. This article aims to investigate if the placement of these sanatoria in eucalyptus woodlands was a deliberate action, even though it was not directly attributable to floristic considerations by the state and federal governments at the time of their decisions.”
Lloyd, Rohan. “Optimism Unlimited: Prospects for the Pearl-Shell, Bêche-de-Mer and Trochus Industries on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, 1860-1940.”In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 73-84. London: Routledge, 2018.
“This chapter considers how known histories of resource issues became marginalised within the romanticisation of the Reef’s economic wealth. It does so by briefly addressing the pioneering period when ideas and rumours of the fisheries’ potential to generate wealth drew government interest and regulation. It then considers a turbulent period wherein government concern for the fisheries resulted in three inquiries between 1890 and 1920. Finally, it examines the period from World War I to the 1940s when the idea of ‘abundance’ became particularly resilient, as writers recast the fisheries’ histories and praised them as concrete examples of the Reef’s potential abundance. By the 1950s, however, optimism about the future of the fishery had been sapped, and tourism replaced it as the Reef’s primary economic activity. Nonetheless, this chapter shows that optimism remained despite legacies of resource depletion, labour issues and market difficulties. It argues that belief in the fisheries’ abundance, expressed by fishermen, scientists, politicians and travel writers, embodied a confidence which was informed by a desire to ascribe a form of tangible value to the Reef.”
Lloyd, Rohan. “Politicised science on the Great Barrier Reef? It’s been that way for more than a century.” The Conversation August 22, 2018.
“The controversy surrounding the A$444 million given to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation by the federal government shows how politicised science has become on the Great Barrier Reef. One reef scientist, who declined to be named, was quoted saying that the grant was “obviously” political, and accused the federal government of seeking to deny the opposition the chance to make the Great Barrier Reef an election issue. But the politicisation of reef science, and particularly the Great Barrier Reef itself, is not new. It has a long history, stretching back to the time when the British empire was at its most powerful.”
McCann, Joy. Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2018.
“Unimpeded by any landmass, the mysterious Southern Ocean flows completely around Earth from west to east between the seasonally shifting icy continent of Antarctica and the coastlines and islands of Australia, New Zealand, South America and South Africa. Weaving together sea captains’ journals, whalers’ log books, explorers’ letters, scientific research and ancient beliefs with her own voyage of discovery, this book reveals the secrets of a little-known ocean and its importance as a barometer of climate change.”
Minard, Pete. “Making the ‘Marsupial Lion’: Bunyips, Networked Colonial Knowledge Production between 1830-59, and the Description of Thylacoleo carnifex.” Historical Records of Australian Science 29, no. 2 (2018): 91-102.
“This article explores the processes leading up to the description of Thylacoleo carnifex by Richard Owen in 1859. It argues that it resulted from thirty years of searching for extinct marsupial predators in Australian fossil sites, starting with the discovery of the first Australian marsupial megafauna fossils in 1830. Australian farmers, colonial and metropolitan scientists and anonymous indigenous informants conducted this search. Together these individuals formed a scientific network that found, shipped and inscribed fossils as marsupial carnivores. This network involved the constant movement of ideas, people and fossils to and from the Australian colonies as colonial investigators sought patronage, personal status and the incorporation of Australian deep time within European theoretical models. This networked model demonstrates the agency of colonial investigators without flattening the very real power differentials they had to negotiate when metropolitan experts sought out specimens, correspondents and supporters.”
Minard, Pete. “A History of the Marsupial Lion – With Science, Colonial Politics and Bunyips.” The Conversation May 15, 2018.
“‘Marsupial lions’ lived on the Australian continent from about 24 million years ago up until the end of the Pleistocene era, about 30,000 years ago. Of course they weren’t really lions, but an extinct species of marsupial with lengthened premolar teeth. I’ve recently published a colonial history of the scientific identification and naming of the species Thylacoleo carnifex. It reveals the power dynamics that existed within colonial science, and the important and overlooked roles played by Aboriginal knowledge and testimony.”
Mirams, Sarah. Coasts of Dream: A Biography of E.J. Brady. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2018.
“This is the story of the poet E.J. Brady who began his writing career in 1890s Sydney during the Great Strikes. Charming, charismatic and handsome, Brady forged friendships with Sydney’s radicals and bohemians. He carved a place for himself in the literary scene as the Australian poet who wrote of the sea. During his career Brady travelled the length and breadth of Australia writing optimistically of her beauty and promise in poetry and prose. In 1909 he went on holiday with his family to the remote coastal settlement of Mallacoota, escaping scandal and disgrace in the cities. Mallacoota was to become his domain where Brady styled himself as a ‘poet and pioneer’ living on nature’s frontier. In telling the story of E.J. Brady’s poetry, dreams and passions, this book delves insightfully into a writer’s life and Australia’s literary, social and environmental history.”
McIntyre, Julie A. and John Germov. Hunter Wine: A History. Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2018.
“Time is an essential element of each glass of wine that we drink. Within moments of it being poured from a bottle, or when a barrel is exposed to air, wine begins to change in subtle and irreversible ways. At the other end of the temporal scale, the bedrock of the vineyard landscapes that grow the grapes to make this wine were formed over millennia past. From the deep past to the current moment, this book shows how historical influences and technological processes have shaped Hunter wine from vine to glass. The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region, so its history and heritage are integral to understanding how Australian wine has evolved. Australian cultures of making, selling and drinking wine are more than echoes of British and European traditions and trends — they represent new practices and styles. Hunter wine is the result of horticultural, chemical, technological, social and economic experimentation by men and women who have migrated to the region since the 1820s. In turn, the Hunter landscape and people have been shaped by the presence of vineyards and wineries since early colonisation. This book gives new expression to connected histories of nature and culture in the region by viewing them through the lens of wine history.”
McIntyre, Julie A. “Wine Worlds are Animal Worlds too: Native Australian animal vinefeeders and interspecies relations in the ecologies that host vineyards.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 126-38. London: Routledge, 2018.
“This chapter highlights the agency of native animals that feed on vines and grapes and emphasise that wine is an animals-present product. As such, it contributes to the environmental humanities project of disrupting naturalised anthropocentric thinking through the rewriting of ‘inaccurate narratives about human relationships to ecosystems and nonhuman species’. Beginning with a discussion of contemporary wine discourse as animal-free, I then identify the genesis of the lexical normalisation of certain native animals as vineyard pests in the 1840s, prior to the arrival of the invasive animals which later became vineyard pests. Following on from this, I suggest that it was in the 1970s that a consumer-facing silence became common to disguise the reality of the control of native and invasive animal feeders in vineyards, even as a new generation of winegrowers faced the same animal ‘pest’ species as had the early settlers. Historical sources for the early nineteenth and late twentieth centuries, although temporally discrete, offer a glimpse of continuities and changes in animal behaviour and human intentions in wine grape vineyards.”
McLean, Jessica, Lonsdale, Aleshia, Hammersley, Laura, O’Gorman, Emily, and Miller, Fiona. “Shadow Waters: Making Australian Water Cultures Visible.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (2018): doi: 10.1111/tran.12248
“Connections between people and water have received considerable attention within geographic research. This paper draws on cultural and historical geographies, political ecology and the environmental humanities to extend understandings of the hydrosocial cycle by focusing on the cultural dimensions of society–water relations through the concept of shadow waters. Shadow waters centres attention on the cultures that privilege certain waters while rendering other waters invisible and marginalised. Inspired by Val Plumwood’s notion of ‘shadow places’, shadow waters brings to light the way power intersects with cultural practices. We bring this concept of shadow waters into conversation with Indigenous water knowledges. Shadow waters can be conceptualised vertically, with surface water receiving more policy and research attention than ground water, and also horizontally, as some sub‐catchments, uses and values have been ignored or undervalued in macro‐catchment processes. Temporally, in considering the past, complex and contested histories of human–environment relations are often overlooked in favour of simple historical narratives that ultimately reinforce dominant management structures and trajectories. Shadow waters are thus historically created as particular power structures and narratives are reinforced and “normalised” over time. This paper examines shadow waters in southeastern Australia, elucidating the way two rivers are interwoven and co‐determined in cultures of water use in this context. We show how the rethinking of dominant water cultures, made possible by cross‐cultural engagement, generates new possibilities for reconnection, restoration and protection; a different water ethics based on care and responsibility that addresses power relations and injustices.”
Morgan, Ruth A. “Dry Continent Dreaming: Australian Visions of Using Antarctic Icebergs for Water Supplies.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 1 (2018): 145-66.
“This article traces the little-studied development of Australian interest in iceberg utilisation from the 1960s to the early 1990s. Fostered by Cold War global anxieties about water availability, iceberg utilisation offered a means to overcome hydrological limits to growth. Drawing on Patrick McCray’s characterisation of the ‘visioneer’, this article examines the arguments that Australian scientists raised in support of iceberg utilisation during the 1970s and 1980s. Focusing on Perth, Western Australia, as a prospective destination for harvested Antarctic icebergs, Australian visioneers appealed to settler narratives of heroic water engineering, and Antarctic exploration and exploitation. Although their scheme for iceberg utilisation was unrealised, its study reveals the particular circumstances that shaped the visioneers and their vision as well as the circumstances that hindered their achievement.”
Morgan, Ruth A. “Climate and Empire in the Nineteenth Century.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Climate History, edited by Sam White, Christian Pfister and Franz Mauelshagen, 589-603. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
“This chapter examines key areas of historical research on climate and climatology during the nineteenth century in the context of empire and colonialism. This research ranges from the reconstruction of past climates and their impacts to the study of medical climatology, understandings of climate change and climate modification, the practice of colonial climatology, and the emergence of a ‘global’ climate. Although scholars have tended to examine these topics separately, common themes emerge when they are brought together; these themes include climate and environmental determinism, scientific cultures and practices, geographies of knowledge and risk, the application of science to economic development, and ideas of spatial and temporal scale.”
Morgan, Ruth. “The Anthropocene as Hydro-Social Cycle: Histories of Technology for the Age of Humans.” ICON 23 (2017): 37-53.
“In this essay, I offer a potted genealogy of the ways in which environmental historians (and others) have articulated the historical relationship between humans and the hydrosphere. In doing so, I argue for the usefulness of the ‘hydro-social cycle’ as a multi-scalar means to conceptualise this dynamic and co-evolving relationship over time. This concept of a hydro-social cycle is a valuable companion to the study of the Anthropocene, not least because these two frameworks both emerged at the turn of the twenty-first century to articulate the extent to which humans have shaped planetary processes. For the purposes of brevity, I have limited my discussion to the historical scholarship of urban sanitary infrastructure. This focus on the hydro-social cycle in the city not only reflects my own research to date, but also highlights the significance of phenomena such as path dependence and technological lock-in to the exponential hydrospheric changes that the IGBP graphs so vividly illustrate. In the discussion that follows, I show how the hydro-social cycle offers a means to reconcile earlier efforts to conceptualise and historicise human-nature relations with the political ecology of urban spaces. I then turn to the historical study of hydraulic infrastructure, and its role in the mediation of power between different social groups. This dynamic persists in accounts of how particular water cultures developed in tandem with urban sanitary infrastructure from the mid-nineteenth century in both metropolitan and colonial contexts. Finally, I reflect on the ways in which the historical study of the hydro-social cycle can contribute to addressing the contemporary environmental crisis. In light of the planetary changes that the Anthropocene concept suggests, the hydro-social cycle offers analytical insights into the particular socioeconomic, technological, environmental and cultural configurations that have re-shaped the hydrosphere.”
Myers, Sarah, Mirams, Sarah, and Mallett, Tom. “Landlands Iron Foundry, Flinders Street, Melbourne.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 22, no. 1 (2018): 78-99.
“Langlands Iron Foundry was an early and significant industrial operation in Victoria, responsible for assembling the first iron paddle steamer and making the first locomotive boiler in the colony. Remains of the foundry were uncovered in June 2014 during an archaeological program preceding development of a site in Flinders Street in Melbourne. The site was located on the remains of a garden created by John Batman, one of the two ‘founders’ of Melbourne in 1835 and was superseded by a commercial shipping butcher in 1864. In this paper we present archaeological and historical evidence relating to the garden and iron foundry to illuminate important aspects of working life and conditions in early Melbourne.”
O’Gorman, Emily. ‘Swamplands: Human-Animal Relationships in Place.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 85-98. London: Routledge, 2018.
“Toowoomba, a city in south-eastern inland Queensland, Australia, is built on swamps. The swamps have been central to the history of this city. From the mid- nineteenth century, European colonists sought to control and contain them as a source of disease and damaging floods while also being reliant on their aquifers for water supply. This chapter takes up one part of this history, examining the ways in which animals were entangled in colonists’ relationships with the swamps as a source of disease. … Through this history, the persistence of initially British-led colonial imperatives to control the swamps as a source of disease and the entanglement of animals within these becomes evident. Across these periods, dominant Western scientific understandings of the relationships between animals and human disease changed significantly, from miasma to germ theory to mosquito-borne diseases. In charting these changes, this chapter draws out the roles and agency of a variety of domesticated animals and their dead bodies, and then the mosquitoes, all present in abundance in the swamps. By focusing on the swamps, this chapter also aims to show the value of situating human-animal relationships within wider sets of shifting relationships in order to more fully examine the co-creation of places by animals.”
Oreskes, Naomi, Conway, Erik, Karoly, David J., Gergis, Joëlle, Neu, Urs. and Pfister, Christian. “The Denial of Global Warming”. In The Palgrave Handbook of Climate History, edited by Sam White, Christian Pfister and Franz Mauelshagen, 149-71. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
“No book about the science of climate reconstruction would be complete if it did not also address the organized efforts to reject and obfuscate that science. This chapter begins with passages adapted from Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (2010), which were kindly shared by the authors and publisher. This path-breaking work uncovered links among the tactics and agents involved in organized efforts to cast doubt and disrepute on research and researchers who have demonstrated how certain profitable enterprises have negative health and environmental externalities. Here, we have extended Oreskes and Conway’s account with a discussion of global warming denial in Europe and in Australia.”
Pearce, Lilian. “Affective Ecological Restoration, Bodies of Emotional Practice.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 1 (2018): 167-89.
“Ecological restoration is an emotional practice. Through restoration, practitioners engage in personal and palpable relationships with their local ecosystems. This paper draws on participatory social research with volunteer groups on the south-east coast of New South Wales, Australia. Here, ecological restoration volunteers react to the cumulative impacts of agriculture, mining, forestry and fishing on local ecosystems. Five affective experiences within the practice—loving, labouring, learning, limiting and letting go—convey the significance of emotions in renegotiating relationships with place. Colonially framed social and ecological imaginaries are unravelled through the cultivation of reciprocal, attentive and caring encounters with the environment. As well as reframing the past, comments such as ‘this whole project in a way is looking after a landform which in all likelihood will totally disappear’ suggest the importance of commitment in the present, amidst an uncertain future. This paper contributes to discussions about the changing role of history in contemporary ecological restoration. Histories of human–environment relationships extending back to colonial visions of Australia are repeatedly encountered and complicated through engagements with material ecologies and the affective experiences of restoration work.”
Robin, Libby. “Cane Toads as Sport: Conservation Practice and Animal Ethics at Odds.” In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 15-25. London: Routledge, 2018.
“Politics, both local and national, has been touched by the cane toad invasion across northern Australia. Here is an introduced animal with a rapidly expanding range that has invaded a huge swathe of country (about a third of Australia – or the area of Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and Sweden combined). It is an animal that is easy to hate. Even in places where political views are polarised and communities share little common ground, eradicating cane toads is perceived as a good thing. The ‘toad menace’ has motivated volunteer efforts and citizen science from diverse communities, including remote Aboriginal communities, urban Darwin and smaller and larger settlements in between. Local newspapers have monitored the arrival of the toads as they have spread across northern Australia, from mid-Queensland in the 1930s to Broome on the Western Australian coast in 2010. They are also travelling south, with sightings at Hawks Nest, just north of Newcastle, in 2017. This chapter considers the recent history of the toads and the practices for managing the environment they inspire. The cane toad irruption, especially the recent rapid geographical spread across northern Australia, has created a ‘crisis’ as well as discussions about emergency management.”
Robin, Libby with Stephen Boyden. “Telling the Bionarrative: A Museum of Environmental Ideas.” Historical Records of Australian Science 29, no. 2 (2018): doi:10.1071/HR18007
“This paper explores the history of a proposal for an ideas-based museum of ecological concepts, a ‘National Biological Centre’ for Canberra in 1965, and its successors. The background to the proposal came from changing ideas about zoos in the 1960s, and the emerging discipline of human ecology. The mission of the centre was to explore the relations between humans, other life-forms and their physical environment through what its chief protagonist, Stephen Boyden, called a comprehensive ‘bionarrative’. The centre was to facilitate the understanding of biophysical and social worlds as interrelated dynamic systems. The Biological Centre was conceived as a ‘major cultural institution’ for the nation, reflecting relations between science and society, and informing culture with science. Unlike traditional natural history museums and zoos, collections of objects (or animals) were not its primary mission. This paper considers how the 1965 proposal for the Biological Centre anticipated later ‘museums of ideas’, and reviews its relevance to new twenty-first-century museums of the Anthropocene, and how museums and related institutions can shed light on the role of science in society.”
Roche, Mike. “World War I and Forestry in New Zealand.” New Zealand Journal of Forestry 63, no. 2 (2018): 31-34.
“World War I influenced the course of state forestry in New Zealand by delaying implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Forestry 1913. New Zealand’s first professionally qualified forester was killed during the war, but post-war scholarships provided opportunities and enabled other New Zealanders to take forestry degrees at Edinburgh. Indeed, the war also placed L.M. Ellis, who was to really shape the course of state forestry in New Zealand, in a position where he was able to apply successfully for the position of inaugural Director of Forests in 1919.”
Roche, Mike. “W. W. Smith (1852-1942): ‘Second to None in the Dominion as a Field Naturalist;’.” Journal of New Zealand Studies, no. 25 (2017): 88-99.
“On his death in 1942, W. W. Smith was described in an obituary as “second to none in the Dominion as a field naturalist.” This phrase had been used some years earlier by scientist-politician George Malcolm Thomson. Today, Smith is largely recalled for his membership of the Scenery Preservation Commission (1904-1906) and work as the domain curator in Ashburton (1894-1904) and Pukekura Park in New Plymouth (1908-1920). This paper revisits Smith’s reputation as a naturalist. In so doing it considers the fields of knowledge he engaged with and identifies some of the scientific networks in which he was embedded.”
Villanueva, Gonzalo. “’Pain for Animals, Profit for People’: The Campaign Against Live Sheep Exports, 1974-1986.”In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 99-110. London: Routledge, 2018.
“The campaign to end live sheep exports represents a modern instance of the politicisation of sheep and the struggle over the lives of animals. Throughout the 1970s, meat workers, who saw sheep as a resource whose exploitation was thwarted because they were exported to a foreign market, contested the issue of live sheep exports. In order to protect local jobs, the Australasian Meat Indus- try Employees’ Union (AMIEU) confronted the government and the rural sector on economic terms. In their escalating industrial dispute, meat workers used pickets and blockades to militantly disrupt the trade. Lacking wider support for their cause, the union’s dispute reached an impasse. In the late 1970s, a new actor emerged: the animal movement. For animal activists, the sheep possessed their own interests that needed to be defended and protected. Their focus was on the sheep’s condition. Because the trade caused pain and suffering, activists contested the trade on the issue of animal welfare. In the pursuit of animal rights, they used a range of tactics, including lobbying governments for reform. During this time, they found long-standing allies in the Australian Democrats. Through their interactions, both movements influenced the political agenda. However, by the 1980s, the meat worker’s economic arguments were, I argue, eclipsed by the debate around animal welfare. Despite various achievements along the way, neither social movement could claim the ultimate victory: the ban on live sheep exports.”
Wilkie, Ben. “Rights, reconciliation, and the restoration of Djabwurrung and Jardwadjali names to Grampians-Gariwerd.” Victorian Historical Journal (2018): 113-35.
“Grampians-Gariwerd has been a site for contesting visions of Australia’s history and heritage. Controversies over its Indigenous history have reflected national debates around Aboriginal rights, reconciliation and recognition. The park has been, in particular, the subject of intense debates over the place of Indigenous names on the Australian landscape. Exploring public and political discussion surrounding its naming since the late 1980s, this article argues that the recent history of Grampians-Gariwerd shows how understandings of the park have been in a complex relationship with not only local and regional concerns but also issues and movements of national significance.”
Wilkie, Ben. ‘Defending nature: Animals and militarised landscapes in Australia’, In Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Human-Animal Relations, edited by Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley, 139-51. London: Routledge, 2018.
“This chapter uses the Puckapunyal Military Training Area in central Victoria, Australia, case study as a springboard for exploring the history of environmental policy in the Australian armed forces and the broader implications for animal populations in militarised landscapes. It reveals the evolution of military environmental discourses and practices that have developed along highly contingent, path-dependent lines, and highlights the complicated, multifarious nature of military training sites and the relationships between their human and non-human occupants. The question of animals in militarised landscapes is far from settled and significantly more complex than a relationship of domination at the hands of destructive forces.”
Williamson, Fiona. “Crossing Colonial Borders: Governing Environmental Disasters in Historic Context.” In Crossing Borders: Governing Environmental Disasters in a Global Urban Age in Asia and the Pacific, edited by Michelle Ann Miller, Michael Douglass, Matthias Garschagan, 41-57. Singapore: Springer, 2018.
“Exploring the history of major floods, governmental responses, and contemporaneous scientific research, this chapter will argue that by understanding context and precedent in dealing with past urban disasters, we can better understand and produce efficient approaches to disaster management in the future. Just as the disasters that face cities today should not be considered in isolation, so too should the lessons of the past be made available today. Using the major flood events of the Straits Settlements c. 1850–1950 as a close lens into disaster response and management, this paper takes an historic perspective on the complex dynamics of climate, science, urban planning and disaster. It will focus on a region where the history of floods has been under researched yet, floods have played a major part in developing urban planning strategies over the long-term. Under British administration, the mechanisms of disaster response in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were frequently reactive but, over time, urban governors also developed strategies and coping mechanisms to manage the reoccurring problem. These ideas were formed by first-hand experience but also from the exchange of knowledge across borders, especially scientific knowledge about tropical climates, deforestation, climate change and urban resilience. Crossing borders in this paper then, signifies the trans-global history of ideas and information across colonial spaces and the incorporation of international and local knowledge across geographical boundaries.”
Williamson, Fiona. “Malaya’s Greatest Menace? Slow-Onset Disaster and the Muddy Politics of British Malaya, c. 1900-50.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 2 (2018): 45-68.
“In 1948, a chilling statement from British Malaya’s Director of Agriculture, F. Burnett, made headline news. According to Burnett, unchecked soil erosion across hillside Malaya would soon render the country’s precious agricultural land infertile. Erosion had worsened considerably after the 1880s due to widespread, indiscriminate agricultural and industrial clearing. By the 1920s, it had become a sizeable socioeconomic and environmental issue, thought also to contribute to the scale and intensity of flooding and the likelihood of dangerous landslips. The British Government raised a series of empire-wide inquiries across the first half of the twentieth century, tied to an emerging global scientific interest in, and concern about, soil degradation, food security and economic productivity. The colonial British Government of Malaya—whilst acknowledging the part played by commercial agriculture—also tended to place blame on traditional shifting cultivators and farmers, especially the Chinese. This article discusses the problem of soil erosion in British Malaya as a primarily slow-onset disaster while also acknowledging erosion’s contributing role in more sudden hazards, such as landslips. It also explores how erosion was linked with an evolving blame culture in Malaya, involving discrimination against different social groups at different times. The narratives surrounding soil erosion thus offer a lens into the interplay of environment, colonialism and politics in British Malaya.”
Williamson, Fiona. “Uncertain Skies: ‘Forecasting’ Typhoons in Hong Kong c. 1874-1906.” Quaderni Storici 52:3 (2017): 777-802.
“This paper explores the conceptualisation of ‘uncertainty’ in late nineteenth- century meteorological thought. By investigating the story of meteorological forecasting in nineteenth and early twentieth century Hong Kong, it considers the changing ways in which forecasting was judged historically. In the early nineteenth century forecasting the weather was considered impossible. By the end of the century, it was confidently expected that the much improved understanding of weather patterns would lead to the ability to better predict them. During the intervening period ‘uncertainty’ competed with ‘certainty’ and ‘prediction’ was mistaken for ‘predictability’. The shift in perception was driven by various factors, including changing public perceptions of what science could achieve and pressure to accurately predict typhoons. Such concerns helped shape the course of meteorology globally from a series of subjective theories into an objective pragmatic science based on observational analysis. This article seeks to highlight the practices, places and experiences that contributed knowledge to the burgeoning field overseas whilst also connecting with others in this volume by considering the circumstances that contributed to changing perceptions of forecasting. In particular, it also explores how the qualification of weather phenomenon – in this case the typhoon – as ‘unpredictable’ or ‘uncertain’ opened the door to innovation and discovery.”
Williamson, Fiona and Courtney, Chris. “Disasters Fast and Slow: The Temporality of Hazards in Environmental History.” International Review of Environmental History 4, no. 2 (2018): 4-11.
“The articles in this special issue explore the contrasting temporality of disasters in environmental history across time and space. Focusing on drought, famine, flood, fire and typhoons, they consider the vastly different ways that fast and slow hazards have affected societies and communities over time, from macro-scale political and economic factors, such as levels of social inequality and political marginalisation, to micro-level personal impacts on emotions, families and community cultures. They vary in temporal scope from roughly the 1700s to the 1950s, and range geographically from China, Australia and Malaysia to the Philippines—all the disasters under consideration presuppose a human–nature interaction, created or exacerbated through poor governmental management, unequal socio-political structures and/or the indiscriminate degradation of the immediate urban or agricultural environment.”
Williamson, Fiona and Wilkinson, Clive. “Asian Extremes: Experience and Exchange in the Development of Meteorological Knowledge c. 1840-1930.” History of Meteorology 8 (2017): 159-78.
“On 29 July 1939, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle was off the northern entrance of the Formosa Strait, approximately 25⁰N, 121⁰E. The ship’s meteorological officer was formulating the current synoptic weather situation, which included a typhoon to the south or south-east of Formosa with a second typhoon much further east in about 144⁰E. It might be expected that in 1939, the existence and position of a typhoon could be corroborated easily by contemporary ‘experts’ situated nearby. However ‘The utmost confusion prevailed’ noted the officer ‘among the experts at Zikawei, Manila & Hong Kong today …I think there is no doubt that a typhoon reached Formosa … this was also confirmed by Zikawei’s signals, but Manila gave it a position much further East while Hong Kong stoutly maintained that there were no typhoons on the map at all’.1 The level of bewilderment over such a significant event may seem surprising to our modern eyes but this would not be considered unusual to anyone who had studied the correspondence of the above mentioned observatories for the early twentieth century. Confusion, mediocre communication channels and, on occasion, outright antipathy, limited what might otherwise have been a profitable and progressive relationship between meteorological services. This is explained by the history of the development of meteorology in the Asia-Pacific region.”