by Ruth Morgan
It’s only July and we can be proud of an amazing smorgasbord of environmental history delights – congratulations all. From the ice to the inland, the publications below explore human and more than human migrations and mobilities; health and toxicity; consumption and production; as well as the development of the field of environmental history itself. They also suggest new directions in our research including greater attention to emotions, gender, ethnicity, and the agency of the more than human world. Likewise, these publications highlight the diverse methods we use to study environmental history, including oral history, photography, and museum studies. Our colleagues explore the activist, collaborative and interdisciplinary possibilities of environmental history, and point towards the significant contributions that our field can make beyond the academy. There are also tributes to Rod Home, Max Day and Geoff Bolton, who have done so much to shape the ways we understand Australian science and environments over time. If you have a publication that you would like to feature in our bi-annual publications round-up, please email email@example.com.
Antonello, Alessandro. “Engaging and Narrating the Antarctic Ice Sheet: The History of an Earthly Body.” Environmental History 22, no. 1 (2017): https://doi.org/10.1093/envhis/emw070
“First explored at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Antarctic ice sheet is the largest body of ice in the world and plays a significant part in the earth’s atmospheric and oceanic processes. With its massive spatial and temporal scales, the ice sheet has challenged human attempts to conceptualize and understand it; the ice sheet’s dynamic responses to global warming have further challenged understanding. While there has been a substantial increase in knowledge, there has also been a continuous thread of dealing with the unknown and imaginative aspects of the ice sheet. This article explores the history of scientific engagements with and narrations of the Antarctic ice sheet since the early twentieth century. It looks at two aspects. First, it examines the ways in which explorers and scientists have come to understand the ice sheet as a spatial entity, particularly noting the limits of human engagements along lines of movement with particular technologies. Second, this article examines the ways in which the ice sheet has been understood as an entity in time, a stable or unstable earthly body with geo-histories and potential futures, with changing narrations over time. I argue that we must recognize that the Antarctic ice sheet, although manifestly objective and present in the world, had to be conceptualized and made.”
Barnes, Jillian and McIntyre, Julie. “‘A Funny Place’ for a Prison: Coastal Beauty, Tourism, and Interpreting the Complex Dualities of Trial Bay Gaol, Australia.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Tourism, edited by Jacqueline Z. Wilson, Sarah Hodgkinson, Justin Piché and Kevin Walby, 55-83. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
“This chapter examines the historical origins of present-day struggles by memory managers to convey the complex elements of prison life at this arrestingly beautiful place, and by visitors to reconcile their cultural memory of Trial Bay Gaol and its beachside holiday setting with conventional expectations of a dark touristic experience of imprisonment. It argues that the making of Trial Bay Gaol tourism complex is the result of a more sustained, convoluted, contested, and nationalistic process than has been realized.”
Beattie, James. “Dragons Abroad: Chinese Migration and Environmental Change in Australasia.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 59-70. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“As miners and merchants, as gardeners, navvies, and farmers, Chinese migrants to nineteenth-century Australasia did much to change environments, while at the same time introducing new ways of viewing nature. A focus on Chinese environmental activities in Australasia helps to correct an ethnocentric bias evident in Australasian environmental historiography, which has largely ignored this group and instead has examined the activities of Europeans and, to a lesser extent, indigenous peoples and environmental change. It also highlights the appropriateness of a translocal rather than a transnational approach in considering this topic, since nineteenth-century connections operated at multiple local levels, rather than at a national level or involving formal governmental interactions. Finally, this article under- lines the need for environmental historians of China to think beyond the confines of the modern nation state of China in writing history.”
Beattie, James and Morgan, Ruth A. “Engineering Edens on this ‘Rivered Earth’? A Review Article on Water Management and Hydro-Resilience in the British Empire, 1860-1940s.” Environment and History 23, no. 1 (2017): 39-63.
“This article presents an overview of the management of fresh water in the British Empire from the 1860s to the 1940s. We argue that imperial water management shaped and responded to the imperatives of diverse ecologies and topographies, contrasting political and economic agendas and, not least, different colonial societies, technologies and lay expertise. Building on existing studies, we consider the broader ecological and social effects of water management on irrigated agriculture and cities as well as water supply and drainage, with a particular focus on India and Australasia. Although imperial ideologies of improvement impelled settlement, drove resource extraction and transformed environments, we argue that at times they also diminished the availability, quality and distribution of water. Engineering projects also benefited some groups but not others. We show that normative Anglo assumptions of productive lands and watered environments were often ill-matched with colonial ecologies and water availability, in some cases prompting anxieties about the quality and quantity of water. While these anxieties encouraged further hydrological interventions, we show that they often had unexpected and undesired consequences. We introduce the concept of ‘hydro-resilience’ to demonstrate how interventions in water management diminished the quality and quantity of water in ways that impacted unevenly on peoples and ecologies across the British Empire.”
Cushing, Nancy. “Animal Mobilities and the Founding of New South Wales.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 19-26. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“The voyage of the First Fleet provides a valuable opportunity to study human-animal relations because ships are one of the “unfamiliar and precarious places” where “intimate and corporeal connections between humans and animals” can change the usual hierarchies and power relations. The animals had an elevated status while in transit because of their intended role at their destination. Just as Noah’s pairs of animals were to ensure that the human order could be re-established after the great flood, the First Fleet animals were to be the progenitors of animals which would allow British life to be transplanted onto a new continent. Drawing upon the journals kept by the ships’ surgeons, officers of the marines, and seamen on this voyage, this essay will explore the implications of the long distance mobility forced on these animals, focusing on its effect on the relative status of humans and other animals.”
Dobbie, Meredith, Morgan, Ruth A. and Frost, Lionel. “Overcoming Abundance: Social Capital and Managing Floods in Inner Melbourne During the Nineteenth Century.” Journal of Urban History (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0096144217692984
Before effective drainage and flood protection systems were built in the early twentieth century, areas of inner Melbourne close to the Yarra River were prone to flooding. An overabundance of water and a need to limit its impact on lives, livelihoods, and the built environment drove changes in the engineered structure of a rapidly growing city. Through a case study of a working-class district, we consider how private citizens, drawing on stocks of social capital, responded to major floods in 1863 and 1891. In addition to the process of “top-down” governing, as revealed in public documents, less visible “bottom-up” pressure from local communities played an important role in influencing improvements in water-related infrastructure, such as flood mitigation works. By the turn of the twentieth century, this local pressure increasingly manifested in a centralist approach to water management, whereby metropolitan-wide public authorities took greater charge of local environmental problems.
Frawley, Jodi. “Oyster Culture in the Estuary Worlds of Southern Queensland.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 11-18. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“Oysters—Saccostrea sp.—once lived in abundance in the complex of estuaries between Moreton Bay and Wide Bay in southern Queensland. Until the 1890s, these estuaries were thick with intertidal and subtidal oysters. As the cities and towns of Queensland grew from the 1860s, locals demanded more oysters from the fledgling oyster fishery. A lover of oysters could buy these Queensland foodstuffs as close as Maryborough or Bris- bane or as far away as Sydney and Melbourne. This early trade between 1860 and 1900 saw the destruction of largely self-sustaining populations of oysters. As settlers scram- bled to sustain this industry, fishing communities moved from being oyster harvesters to oyster farmers. This change required the introduction of oyster culture technologies. Here, I trace the ways that the culture technologies of Aboriginal, European, North American, and Chinese people combined to create new oyster ecologies in these systems. While this shows the adaptation of older techniques to new circumstances, these changes were not without consequences to the estuary life of southern Queensland.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Entangled Nature: The Stirling Range National Park.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 81-88. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“Those who fought for the establishment of national parks in Australia provided subsequent generations with invaluable scientific, ecological, recreational, and spiritual resources. Given the rate at which Australian ecosystems were being transformed by extractive industries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the declaration of any national park was a triumph for conservation. However, reservation alone was insufficient for preservation, as park boundaries proved no barrier to fire, Phytophthora, animals, and climate. The nature of the Stirling Range National Park today—while still valuable in its own right—is quite different from that reserved in 1913. As the settler society forcibly took over management of the area from the Noongar people, they found their separationist paradigm of environmental protection impracticable in a more-than-human world. Their vision of nature preservation in discrete reserves and business-as- usual elsewhere was a modernist fantasy. The challenge now is to mobilise sufficient people and resources to care for this country to sustain both human livelihoods and nature’s flourishing on a bioregional scale.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Environmental History and the History of Emotions.” Histories of Emotions: From Medieval Europe to Contemporary Australia, June 16, 2017.
“Emotions pervade environmental histories, from John Muir’s passion for nature, to the renowned (if overstated) colonial Australian fear and hatred of trees. Some works in the broad area, from Keith Thomas’s seminal Man and the Natural World to Grace Karskens’ brilliant ethnographic-environmental history of early Sydney, The Colony, and Thomas P. Slaughter’s postmodern psycho-histories, highlight the role of emotions in shaping the ways in which people in the past have understood and interacted with nature. But environmental historians are yet to make emotion a central focus of analysis; to explain how emotion has shaped human relationships with nature and environments over time.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Lawnscaping Perth: Water Supply, Gardens and Scarcity, 1890-1925.” Journal of Urban History (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0096144217692991
“While Perth’s climate has been getting drier for at least four decades, its citizens maintain an ongoing commitment to year-round green lawns and gardens (or “lawnscapes”), and a resistance to water restrictions that is more pronounced than in other Australian state capital cities. This article demonstrates that these features of contemporary Perth emerged from, and continue to bear the imprint of, an earlier socio-natural system that brought together a town water supply, sprinkler technology, plants, and a multidimensional cultural desire for environmental modification. As important markers of civilization and prosperity, Perth’s emergent lawnscapes assuaged colonial anxieties about the settlement’s status. Conspicuously shaped by collective understandings of imperial urban hierarchies, residents’ lawnscaping projects were also driven by their bodily experience of sand, heat, and dust: they were in part a response to the challenge of keeping homes and families clean and cool in a city of hot summers and ubiquitous sand.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Self-Sown Crops, Modernity and the Making of Mallee Agricultural Landscapes.” Agricultural History 91, no. 2 (2017): 171-86. http://dx.doi.org/10.3098/ah.2017.091.2.171
“This paper examines self-sown crops as agents in the agricultural development of Australia’s southern mallee lands from the 1890s to the 1940s. Self-sown crops suggested ways to farm and provided the enticement of an occasional windfall. They assisted with expansion and consolidation of holdings and provided moral lessons in the value of persistence. In the context of the rise of modern, scientific farming characterized by strict regimes of crop rotation and fallowing, self-sown crops encouraged farmers to maintain more adaptive, less regimented approaches. Ultimately, modernist systems triumphed, and by the mid-twentieth century self-sown crops were all but excluded from mallee agriculture. For a time, however, these plants played a significant role in shaping approaches to farming in the mallee lands and sustaining agricultural enterprise there.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Roe 8: From Freight Link to Green Link.” Australian Garden History 28, no. 4 (2017): 8-9.
“It’s March 12th, the morning after the 2017 Western Australian state election. After the Liberal Party’s resounding electoral defeat, the community that has grown around resistance to the folly of the Perth Freight Link looks forward to beginning the work of replanting and restoring. A community wildlife corridor along the old Roe Highway reserve represents a new, greener vision for urban land use. The damage to Aboriginal spiritual and heritage sites may be irreparable, and the two towering Norfolk Island pines planted by Bibra Lake farmer John Dixon on his wedding day in about 1900 can never be replaced. But already the lignotubers are resprouting. The bush is tenacious and with stewardship, it can return.”
Gaynor, Andrea and Griffiths, Tom. “Spoils and Spoilers: Geoffrey Bolton’s Environmental History.” In A Historian for All Seasons: Essays for Geoffrey Bolton, edited by Stuart Macintyre, Lenore Layman and Jenny Gregory, 141-70. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, 2017.
“In this tribute to Geoffrey Bolton’s work, Gaynor and Griffiths suggest that Spoils and Spoilers (1982) was the first attempt to synthesise a growing body of work on different aspects of the subject and also rode the wave of an increasing concern for the consequences of human habitation of Australia. Bolton made good use of the findings of scientists, historical geographers and archaeologists, though he added his own appreciation of nature writing. He attested to the destructive consequences of greed and ignorance, while affirming the capacity of Australians to learn from their mistakes. As Gaynor and Griffiths explain, he also brought an historical intelligence to the subject, giving his book a keen awareness of local and regional difference as well as a temporal dimension and attention to changing sensibilities.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Three Ingredients for Running a Successful Environmental Campaign.” The Conversation, February 3, 2017.
“Here in Perth, a battle is raging over a 5km stretch of road known as Roe 8. Work on the project, part of the proposed Perth Freight Link, began late in 2016 and as legal avenues to halt construction were exhausted, opponents resorted to non-violent direct action. Some protest “mass actions” have attracted more than 1,000 people from all walks of life and by the end of January, as bulldozers tore through the Coolbellup bushland under costly police protection, well over 100 had been arrested. How will the conflict end? While history provides no sure guide to the future, it does reveal that successful environmental campaigns have tended to share several key features that unsuccessful campaigns have lacked. What are they?”
Gaynor, Andrea and McCann, Joy, “‘I’ve Had Dolphins … Looking For Abalone For Me: Oral History and Subjectivities of Marine Engagement.” Oral History Review 4, no. 2 (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ohr/ohx023
“While oral histories have been used as a source of information about marine species and ecosystems in the past, this article explores how oral histories of fishers and divers can be read as narratives about human relationships with marine environments and animals. We propose that in listening closely to people who have long and intimate experience of the underwater world, we can begin to understand the emotional and experiential dimensions of unsustainable fishing practices. These narratives also encourage us to acknowledge and take seriously the ongoing significance of anthropomorphism as a way of conceptualizing and relating to the nonhuman world. Oral histories have a significant role to play in fostering human capacity and, indeed, desire to live ethically in and with a more-than-human (marine) world.”
Griffiths, Tom. “The Transformative Craft of Environmental History: Perspectives on Australian Scholarship.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 115-25. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“The craft of environmental history engages across the science-humanities divide and it challenges the anthropocentric, nationalistic, and documentary biases of conventional history. It asks us to work audaciously across time, space, and species and to link deep, evolutionary time with the human experience of daily, social time. It propels us to wonder what happens to the history we write if we recognise the non-human world, with its different timescales, as historical, dynamic, constantly changing, and as interactive with humanity in creative ways. It even destabilises our conventional assumptions about the proper domain of history. The Australian experience, both ancient and modern, could not be more crucial or pertinent to this quest. Environmental history in Australia is shaped by a settler culture’s slow and fitful adaptation to a unique ecology and a profoundly Aboriginal place. Indeed, we can argue that our unusual history and natural history have shaped an innovative environmental enquiry—one that has a peculiarly intimate relationship to deep time, approaches the last ice age as a human experience, engages with a very different ecology, and acknowledges the revolutionary character of Australia’s settler history. Environmental history makes the Australian experience of vital interest to the rest of the world.”
Holmes, Katie. “Making Masculinity: Land, Body, Image in Australia’s Mallee Country.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 39-48. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“The relationship between masculinity and the environment is an area to which sociologists and cultural geographers have been more attentive than historians. But understanding the gendered identities of men plays an important part in helping us think through the ways in which they shaped and were shaped by the environments in which they lived and laboured. This is particularly true in rural contexts. The entangled relationships be- tween men’s bodies, animals, machines, and the land they worked are in turn connected to broader understandings about nationhood, settlement, and the Judeo-Christian imperative to subdue the wilderness. In Australia these ideas developed in tandem with modernity and one of the most ubiquitous ways of capturing the change: the camera.”
Holmes, Katie and Mirmohamadi, Kylie. “All Aboard for Modernity: The Better Farming Train.” Agricultural History 91, no. 2 (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.3098/ah.2017.091.2.215
“Between 1926 and 1935 the Better Farming Train made seven trips to the Victorian Mallee region. Modeled on North American examples, the mission of the Train was to spread the “doctrine of better farming” to this wheat-growing region. The Train carried to the Mallee ideas about the promise of science and the hopes of modernity. It championed particular ideas about agricultural development, settlement, and the role of female labour in carrying out the yeoman ideal of the small farmholding. Although the product of a specific time and place, it also tapped into a long-standing belief that the mallee lands could be developed through correct settlement, the advances of technology, and the application of science. The Train was more than a moving collection of exhibits; it also freighted a way of imagining the Mallee that saw in the prospect of golden fields of wheat a way f redeeming the land and forging a modern nation.”
Jones, Rebecca. “Droughts, Fires and Flooding Rains: Environmental Influences on Australian History.” In The Honest History Book, edited by David Stephens and Alison Broinowski, 136-50. Sydney: New South, 2017.
“The Honest History Book set out to balance Australia’s preoccupation with war and all things Anzac and to present alternative narratives of Australian history. This essay explores the role of climate in Australia’s recent past. Jones discusses the way droughts, fires and floods have helped to create our past and continue to shape our present. She argues that the settler-colonial relationship with climate has, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, been characterised by an ambivalent mixture of denial, acceptance, control and optimism. The profound impression which our settler society has made on the environment, combined with escalating uncertainty about global climate change are an incendiary combination; what we have slowly and laboriously come to accept as normal is again changing, and our vulnerability to extreme weather has increased rather than diminished.”
Kass, Dorothy. Environmental Concern: A History of School Nature Study in Australia. Oxford: Routledge, 2017.
“A crucial component of the New Education reform movement, nature study was introduced to elementary schools throughout the English-speaking world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite the undoubted enthusiasm with which educators regarded nature study, and the ambitious aims envisioned for teaching it, little scholarly attention has been paid to the subject and the legacy that nature study bequeathed to later curricular developments. Educational Reform and Environmental Concern explores the theories that supported nature study, as well as its definitions, aims, how it was introduced to curricula and its practice in the classroom, by focusing upon educational reform in the Australian state of New South Wales.” For further information and a flyer offering a 20% discount on this book please click here.
Kitson, Janine. “Geoff Mosley: ‘Repaying My Debt – A Conservationist’s Tale’.” National Parks Association of New South Wales. May 29, 2017.
“Dr Geoff Mosley’s life story in many ways is a history about the modern Australian environment movement. Recently, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness awarded Geoff Mosley with its first Honorary Life Membership. He has been involved in nearly every conservation campaign since the 1960s. His devoted, tireless and prodigious work in conservation as a geographer, writer, campaigner, historian, local activist and economist have contributed enormously to the protection of many of Australia’s most loved and iconic places. He has played a key role in almost all of Australia’s key environmental campaigns since arriving to Australia in 1960.”
Kitson, Janine. “Marie Byles and Rachel Carson: Two Exceptional Women Who Loved Nature.” National Parks Association of New South Wales. March 1, 2017.
“US writer, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring is claimed to have heralded in the modern environment movement. Australia’s Marie Byles is recognised as NSW’s first practicing woman solicitor as well as a leading woman bushwalker, mountain climber and conservationist. This NPA/WEA, Sydney course compared these two outstanding conservationists – an American and an Australian – and explored how these two indomitable and fearless women contributed so much to the development of the modern environment movement.”
Kitson, Janine. “Royal and Yellowstone: The World’s First National Parks.” National Parks Association of New South Wales. May 29, 2017.
“In 1879 NSW led the world by establishing Royal National Park – then known as ‘The National Park’. This was Australia’s first official national park and one of the first national parks in the world. The first national park in the world was Yellowstone, created in 1872. Sydney’s National Park was renamed ‘Royal National Park’ in 1955 in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s 1954 Australian tour. These first national parks ignited a new paradigm for both Australia and the US on how the environment was viewed, valued and protected. In many ways the concept of national parks was revolutionary because it prioritised the protection of nature over extraction and production. Both Royal and Yellowstone inspired people around the globe to call for more national parks, and protection and management of natural areas by government agencies.”
Kendal, Dave, Robin, Libby, Wilson, Anna, Muir, Cameron, Pearce, Lilian M., Willoughby, Sharon and Lunt, Ian D. “Led Up the Garden Path? Weeds, Conservation Rhetoric, and Environmental Management.” Australasian Journal of Environmental Management (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14486563.2017.1300954
“Garden plants have become a target in conservation science discourse, particularly the notion that they ‘jump the garden fence’ to become weeds. This paper synthesises findings of a suite of projects exploring the ‘culture of weeds’ through different disciplinary lenses. Together they agree that while home gardens sometimes contain plants known to be environmental weeds, gardens may not always be the vector for their spread into nearby bushland. Many plants attributed to gardens, in fact, originate in agriculture. The metaphor ‘jumping the garden fence’ obscures the complex pathways that underpin the spread of weeds. Weeding is an important part of both gardening and caring for bushland. Historically, we have been weeding the bush for a long time, and it is an important human activity. If it is industrialised, as it has been in agriculture, through broad-scale chemical and mechanical processes, it may be less valuable to both the bush and the people who care for it. A closer scrutiny of the military metaphors associated with enemy weeds may enable a different sort of weeding and different relations with the bush in Australia. It may even be that we need to garden the bush to get the wilderness we desire.”
Lloyd, Rohan. “Through the Reef: Settler Politics, Science, and the Great Barrier Reef.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 89-100. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“A history of the Great Barrier Reef reveals that the contemporary tensions between the desire for economic growth and protection of the reef have a long past. Appreciation of the reef’s social and economic value increased dramatically as settlement spread along the Queensland coast after 1860. With greater access to the reef, however, came greater human-caused damage to its varied marine environments. As environmental loss became more obvious and less socially palatable, and anxieties over reef resources emerged, the Australian federal and Queensland state governments were compelled to act to protect and preserve various reef features through the establishment of sanctuaries, prohibitions on shell and coral collecting, and regulation of industrial exploitation of the reef’s biological and geological resources. This paper will give a brief overview of these developments to provide context on contemporary issues and on predictions of the reef’s future.”
Lukasiewicz, Anna, Dovers, Stephen, Robin, Libby, McKay, Jennifer, Schilizzi, Stephen G.M. and Graham, Sonia. “Current Status and Future Prospects for Justice Research in Environmental Management.” In Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives, edited by Anna Lukasiewicz, Stephen Dovers, Libby Robin, Jennifer McKay, Stephen Schilizzi and Sonia Graham, 263-66. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing, 2017.
“We believe that justice has a right of residence alongside other legitimate aspects (such as sustainability), rather than being an interesting afterthought or an addition to current management approaches. Environmental conflicts can, and should be, approached from a holistic justice perspective because justice is inherent in our conceptualisations of sustainability, including ecologically sustainable development and sustainable development. A key way for justice research to have impact in the real world is the continued development of a justice ‘discourse’, ‘legibility’, and a ‘lexicon’. Justice concepts need to be discussed by decision makers and stakeholders, both of whom currently shy away from expressing their management goals and policies in terms of justice due to the pervading influence of economics, or at least a certain type of economic interpretations and a lack of understanding of justice.”
Maroske, Sara, Robin, Libby, and McCarthy, Gavan. “Building the History of Australian Science: Five Projects of Professor R.W. Home (1980-present).” Historical Records of Australian Science 28, no. 1 (2017): https://doi.org/10.1071/HR16018
“R. W. Home was appointed the first and, up to 2016, the only Professor of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at the University of Melbourne. A pioneering researcher in the history of Australian science, Rod believes in both the importance and universality of scientific knowledge, which has led him to focus on the international dimensions of Australian science, and on a widespread dissemination of its history. This background has shaped five major projects Rod has overseen or fostered: the Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (a monograph series), Historical Records of Australian Science (a journal), the Australian Science Archives Project (now a cultural informatics research centre), the Australian Encyclopedia of Science (a web resource), and the Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller Project (an archive, series of publications and a forthcoming web resource). In this review, we outline the development of these projects (all still active), and reflect on their success in collecting, producing and communicating the history of science in Australia.”
Mauch, Christof, Morgan, Ruth A. and O’Gorman, Emily. “Envisioning Australia.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 5-10. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“People have been shaping Australian environments dramatically for more than 50,000 years: First, Indigenous people altered the continent’s ecology, especially through their use of re; then, a second wave of colonisation, led by the British—often dated to the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788—wrought another set of ecological changes. Over the last 220 years, these changes have been guided by competing environmental visions and practices that have transformed both the lands and the livelihoods of Aboriginal people and of non-indigenous settlers.”
McMichael, Anthony J. with Woodward, Alistair and Muir, Cameron. Climate Change and the Health of Nations: Famines, Fevers and the Fate of Populations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
“The magnum opus of the late epidemiologist Anthony McMichael, this study lucidly, and at times lyrically, chronicles 200,000 years of human history through a climate lens. McMichael unpicks the intricate choreography of climatic shifts, disease outbreaks and resource conflict to show how climate change has become ingrained in our biology and culture. He shows how anthropogenic climate change is the ultimate Faustian pact, trading material advance for environmental degradation; yet he hopes that the ‘integration of eight billion networked cerebral cortexes’ may yet find a way through.”
Morgan, Ruth A. “The Allure of Climate and Water Independence.” Journal of Urban History (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0096144217692990
“In the past decade, Perth and San Diego have both added desalination technology to their suite of water resources. In both contexts, the “independence” that desalination purportedly offers is a shorthand for diversification and drought-proofing in places where future water supplies appear uncertain. Yet the rhetoric of independence may be little more than an illusion, at best, simplifying, or at worst, misrepresenting, the complexity of water management in the face of climate change, climate variability, and population growth. Focusing on desalination, this article examines the different paths that Perth and San Diego have taken toward “independent” water supplies. It explores the cultural and political resonance of independence in these Western contexts, and argues that the invocation of independence is more a rhetorical strategy for political gain than a realistic approach to urban water management.”
Morgan, Ruth A. “Classics: Rural History and Environmental History.” Australian Historical Studies (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2017.1326956
“Studying rural history and environmental history in Australian Historical Studies reveals a shared effort to challenge the colonial narrative of the settlement of rural Australia that continues to hold sway in popular representations of the national past. Rather than finding distinct spheres of urban and rural Australia, it reveals instead the processes by which these areas have been mutually constitutive, whether through cultural representations, economic exchanges, or the application of science and technology. Rather than confirming the dichotomy of nature and culture of the city and the bush, it highlights instead the wider cultural and ecological implications of settler Australians’ diverse engagements with an ancient and Aboriginal land. By transcending disciplinary and spatial boundaries, rural and environmental historians reveal the complexities of colonisation and the networks of exchange that have shaped Australians and their environments since 1788. In their hands, history becomes an important form of knowledge for making sense of rural and environmental change in the twenty-first century.”
Morgan, Ruth A. “Iceberg Utilization: A Panacea for a Thirsty World?” HistoricalClimatology.Com, March 24, 2017.
“Ice, or a lack of it, is an “icon” of anthropogenic climate change. Earlier this year, researchers reported that a rift in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has accelerated and could soon cause a vast iceberg to fall into the sea. After the collapse of the ice shelf, the glaciers that once sustained it will run into the sea. Glaciers like these, Mark Carey has observed, have become an “endangered species” of the Anthropocene. Yet only a few decades ago, Antarctic ice was the hero in a visionary episode of the planet’s recent “cryo-history”. Iceberg utilization was a tantalizing prospect for solving one of the world’s pressing problems: global water shortages. Just as the atom offered an inexhaustible source of cheap energy in the post-war era, Antarctica was a cornucopia of renewable fresh water simply awaiting the application of human ingenuity. Four decades later, we are searching for ways to keep that water well and truly locked up.”
Muir, Cameron. “Fifty Shades of Shadow Places: A Photographic Essay.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 107-14. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“Some of us are pushing the earth into a new epoch, the Anthropocene, and it is harder to think about Australia in isolation. Trade ties other individuals, groups, and nations to our shadow places, just as it ties us to theirs. Australia’s private rooftop solar installations may reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but we give little thought to the pollution released by the factories that manufacture the panels. Fishers and villagers in China have complained that contamination from solar plants has killed wildlife and domestic animals and poses a risk to human health. Demonstrators have clashed with police. Australian companies mine around the world. We buy cars from Japan where the industry dumped waste illegally on surrounding islands. Europe, China, the US, and the UK buy our uranium. The question of shadow places goes to the heart of justice in the Anthropocene.”
Philip, Justine. “International Travels of the Australian Canis Dingo: Part I.” The Bigger Picture: Exploring Archives and Smithsonian History, June 13, 2017.
“In Autumn 2014, I spent six weeks as a pre-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution Archives. My topic of research: ‘Representing the Dingo. An Examination of Dingo–Human Encounters in Australian Cultural and Environmental Heritage’. Here is a snapshot of the findings. Ethnographic records in the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives include albumen prints of Aboriginal women carrying live dingoes, wrapped willingly around their waists like blankets. The portrait of an Aboriginal woman (pictured) is wearing a dingo tail head-dress – a talisman believed to hold great power. Despite 230 years of interaction with colonial society – surviving on the fringes of human settlements, traveling in menageries and circus troupes, living in zoos and semi-domestic arrangements, etc. — no-one has managed to successfully train a dingo. Indeed, dingoes have remained consistently unimpressed with domestication. The Smithsonian Institution Archives provided a wealth of information on this aspect of the dingo’s social history.”
Philip, Justine. “International Travels of the Australian Canis Dingo: Part II.” The Bigger Picture: Exploring Archives and Smithsonian History, June 15, 2017.
“In 2014, NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover crossed its Martian landscape, a surface the scientists had mapped out into quadrangles, naming locations after sites on earth with similar geology or ancient rock formations. ‘Dingo Gap’ is now the name of a Martian valley, after a location near the remote Kimberly quadrangle in Western Australia. Within this cultural matrix, the dingo appears in a new context of exploration, place, cultural and ecological meaning. Here, Western cosmology is evolving, giving ancient celestial narratives the opportunity to re-emerge. The valley on the Martian landscape is named after a wild dog, the dingo, who thrived in the most extreme regions of the Australian desert for thousands of years. They helped people find water, and their stories featured in land marks, waterholes, and star constellations–the stars appeared in the sky each year, coinciding with the annual arrival of the dingo pups.”
Regan, Jayne. “Irrigation Nation or Pacific Partner? Visions for Postwar Australia.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 49-58. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“In this essay I offer an initial intervention into the understudied interwar period. I introduce William Hatfield and Flexmore Hudson, two Australian literary figures who wrote evocatively and passionately about the Australian environment in the 1930s and 1940s. Both men were politicised during the 1930s and, to differing degrees, took up left-wing politics in response to the international climate of crisis. I am particularly interested in the way that the interwar years, as well as the war unfolding across the 1940s, shaped their environmental visions for postwar Australia. While the political atmosphere of the Australian 1940s was characterised by optimistic plans for postwar social and economic reconstruction, Hatfield and Hudson demonstrate that the environment played a part in these imaginings. Hatfield and Hudson held vastly different environmental visions for postwar Australia, but, considered together, their work demonstrates that Australian environmental thought and debate flourished, despite, and perhaps even because of, the major political and economic events of the 1930s and 1940s.”
Robin, Libby. “Culling and Care: Ferals, Invasive and Conservation Icons in Australia.” Australian Zoologist (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2016.024
“The question of problem animals in Australia is often framed in language that has nothing to do with either science or conservation management, but is rather about nationalism and popular culture. The need to attract funding for conservation can often lead to framing problems as ‘national’, yet caring for nature can be done on many scales, and ecological systems is seldom work on national scales. This paper considers both ecological scales (regulated by the animal or plant under consideration) and personal scales (scales meaningful to the conservation manager). The idea that only certain sorts of conservationists can ‘care’ can itself become the problem where conservation groups care, but care differently, and spend time and effort fighting each other, rather than improving ecological outcomes for the animals and plants they care about. Examples discussed include kangaroos in Canberra and cane toads in northern Australia. Changing some inflammatory language and finding more productive uses for the animals culled may enable more inclusive conservation efforts, and engage more hands to help. Macho and military eradication efforts may get in the way of caring for the country, or the animals displaced by invaders. Wasteful practices give conservation a bad name. Better ‘metaphors for environmental sustainability’ (Larson, 2011) can lead to better outcomes for the environment and for those who care for it. The task of conservation demands more than science: it is rewarding for many of the people who undertake it. Conservation is an opportunity for service that many volunteers welcome.”
Robin, Libby. “A History of Global Ideas about Environmental Justice,” in Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives, edited by Anna Lukasiewicz, Stephen Dovers, Libby Robin, Jennifer McKay, Stephen Schilizzi and Sonia Graham, 13-26. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing, 2017.
“This chapter puts the idea of justice in environmental and natural resource management in a historical context, particularly since the rise of ‘the environment’ and the global era in the 1940s. It argues that the future is understood by different experts at different times, and that justice cuts across many sectors: prominent in law, history and governance, but also invoked by natural scientists concerned about the environment and resources. Key global ideas in environmental justice include human rights, sustainability and intergenerational equity, and the precautionary principle, all of which became important in global settings but have specific local and national applications for natural resources such as water, forests and fisheries.”
Robin, Libby and Day, Max. “Changing Ideas about the Environment in Australia: Learning from Stockholm.” Historical Records of Australian Science 28, no. 1 (2017): https://doi.org/10.1071/HR17004
“This paper explores Australia’s responses to questions about ‘the environment’, particularly in the period from the 1960s–80s, showing how they were informed in varying amounts by international science, by the emerging aesthetics of the idea of the environment and by social movements, including one later known as environmentalism. The rise of ‘integrated science’, particularly Big Science and international collaborations in science, modelling and the information technology revolution all shaped the interdisciplinary expertise that frames the environment still. It is, however, very rare to find an individual like Max Day, whose biography enables a re-examination of the way thinking about the environment shaped strategic national thinking, public science and popular concerns including national parks management across the second half of the twentieth century.”
Wilson, Anna, Wilson, David and Robin, Libby. “The Ought-Ecology of Ferals: An Emerging Dialogue in Invasion Biology and Animal Studies.” Australian Zoologist (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2016.027
“This paper considers how the natural sciences and humanities describe and discuss the biota described as ‘feral’, showing that it is employed differently by the various professionals and researchers. Recognizing that metaphors can colour outcomes for sustainability and for the animals themselves, we have explored the interdisciplinary context that has created this as a pejorative term. Through the lens of history, we explore how ‘feral’ has changed its meaning over time in practical management and research contexts. Specifically, we explore how labeling a species or population or group as feral shapes theoretical and practical aims for scientists, humanists and managers in the present and for the future.”
Twigg, Karen. “An Unruly Neighbour: Wimmera Ryegrass.” Visions of Australia: Environments in History, edited by Christof Mauch, Ruth A. Morgan and Emily O’Gorman, 27-38. Munich: RCC Perspectives, 2017.
“The very subjectivity of the term ‘weed’ offers fertile ground for the environmental historian. While weeds often share ‘weedy’ characteristics, such as a propensity to flourish in disturbed ground and to produce vast numbers of seeds that are readily dispersed and germinate rapidly, the label we give such plants is highly dependent on time, place, and circumstance. The following parable of Wimmera ryegrass offers a case in point. Farmers routinely classify plants as weeds (useless) and crops/pasture (useful), but Wimmera ryegrass has confounded such categories. It has been the focus of vitriol when it appears in a wheat crop, but relief when it feeds hungry stock. Originally planted as a pasture grass, Wimmera ryegrass flourishes in the wheat-dominated, dryland cropping belt of southern Australia, a region of roughly twenty-five million hectares characterised by a Mediterranean-style climate. Vigorous, succulent, competitive, and vastly adaptable, Wimmera ryegrass has shaped farming practice in this region in a way equalled by few other plants. In more recent times, its agility has compelled farmers and scientists alike to pay greater attention to its biology and ecology, learning to limit its spread by “thinking like a weed” rather than by dousing it with herbicide.
Wilkie, Benjamin. “Australia’s Extreme Heat has a Deadly History.” The Fifth Continent, February 9, 2017.
“The Climate Council tells us that global warming and climate change are increasing the intensity and frequency of heatwaves in Australia, which are becoming hotter, lasting longer and occurring more frequently. Record-breaking temperatures and heatwaves are expected to increase in the future, they say. Although historic records indicate that the overall number of people dying as a result of excessive heat events in Australia has gradually declined over the century, climate change and its associated extreme weather may mean that the deadly history of heatwaves in Australia is far from over.”
Wilkie, Benjamin. “Family Networks and the Australian Pastoral Industry: A Case Study of the Port Phillip District and Victoria During the Nineteenth Century.” Agricultural History 91, no. 1 (2017): http://dx.doi.org/10.3098/ah.2017.091.1.78
“This article highlights the important function of family and kinship networks in the pastoral industry of the Port Phillip District and Victoria, Australia, during the nineteenth century. Using the core case study of the extended Cameron family—or the Cameron “clan” from the Scottish Highlands—in the Western District of Victoria, it demonstrates how family networks assisted in the accumulation and consolidation of large pastoral properties and enterprises and thus aided the agricultural entrepreneurialism of migrants who saw greater commercial opportunities throughout the Empire than at home.”