by Ruth Morgan
Another bumper edition of publications from our busy network of environmental historians. Congratulations to the doctoral candidates who are publishing their first journal articles, Liz Downes, Rebecca Le Get, and Daniel May. Daniel is currently undertaking a prestigious Endeavour Research Fellowship in the United States. Further applause for Lilian Pearce, whose prize-winning paper, ‘Restoring Broken Histories’, is now in print. We should also raise a toast to Billy Griffiths’ publication of his doctoral research, Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia. If you were unable to attend his Sydney book launch earlier this month, you can read Iain McCalman’s appreciation for the book on the website of the Sydney Environment Institute. The publications below demonstrate the great collaborative nature of our field, with joint efforts across disciplines and beyond the university. These efforts have produced new insights into research methods and the roles for environmental history in an era of environmental crisis. If you have a publication that you would like to feature in our publications round-up, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For earlier editions of our publications round-up see the publications archive here.
Anderson, Deb. “Hearing the Legacy in the Forecast: Living with Stories of the Australian Climate.” In Telling Environmental Histories: Intersections of Memory, Narrative and Environment, edited by Katie Holmes and Heather Goodall, 267-94. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
“This chapter explores the value of environmental storytelling in understanding the re-creation of historical meaning in the present. It homes in on oral history, a methodology cut out for the task of documenting, interpreting and representing the ways people live with stories over time. Cultural engagement with climate is under constant renegotiation—as oral historical research is apt to reveal. Indeed if, as historian Tim Sherratt writes, “climate and culture create each other across a shifting, permeable frontier”, then those words form a near-maxim for the dynamic research context in which I’ve been engaged. The past decade has been a remarkable period of contestation over climate knowledge in Australia. In that time, oral history has become my principal method for investigating the lived experience of extreme weather events—droughts as well as cyclones and bushfires. By considering the relationship of those experiences to perceptions of social and environmental change, this work seeks to illuminate not only how climate shapes culture, but also how culture shapes climate.”
Antonello, Alessandro and Carey, Mark. “Ice Cores and the Temporalities of the Global Environment.” Environmental Humanities 9, no. 2 (2017): 181-203.
“Ice cores from Antarctica, Greenland, and the high-mountain cryosphere have become essential sources of evidence on the climate dating back nearly 800,000 years. Earth scientists use ice cores to understand the chemical composition of the atmosphere, which has been trapped in the air bubbles between the ice crystals as they form annually; this knowledge also feeds into modelling the climate’s future. Ice cores are not simply important sources of environmental knowledge, but have become important elements of global environmental representations and politics since the 1980s. Ice cores do a lot of work. This article is specifically concerned with examining how the practices involved in drilling, analysing, discussing, and using ice cores for both science and broader climate or environmental policies and cultures take part in constituting the temporalities of the global environment. We suggest that ice core discourses have constituted and advanced specific textures and sensibilities of time in relation to Earth’s past, the history of humans as both species and civilization, and certain apocalyptic and determined futures. While the evidence from ice cores is meant to point toward obvious choices to control our global future, the temporalities of ice cores might not lead the same way. This article joins an increasing concern in the environmental humanities with temporalities, and encourages greater attention to temporalities in environmental history.”
Ardill, Peter. Albert Morris and the Broken Hill Regeneration Area: Landscape and Renewal. Haymarket, NSW: Australian Association of Bush Regenerators, 2017. (PDF)
“Albert Morris (1886-1939) was an acclaimed amateur Australian arid zone botanist, conservationist and ecological restorationist. … In this essay the author chronologically traces the development of Morris’s studied and ultimately brilliant response to the ecological devastation that he observed in and around Broken Hill, NSW, in the early decades of the twentieth century. Morris developed a land restoration technique that prioritised the natural regeneration of indigenous flora. Utilising, for its time, this radical and unique technique, the enterprising Morris secured the financial backing of the Broken Hill mining industry to fence an initial set of regeneration reserves (1936-37). As the success of Morris’s bold approach to land regeneration became apparent, the local community lobbied the NSW state government to fund the creation of more reserves. By 1958 Broken Hill was entirely enclosed by a belt of naturally regenerated indigenous vegetation.”
Beattie, James. “Environmental History and Garden History in China and the West: Problems, Methods and Responses.” Environment and History 24, no. 1 (2018): 5-22.
“This article examines why garden historians of the West and China have not placed gardens within wider environmental and ecological processes, and why environmental historians have largely overlooked private gardens. Explanations for this neglect may be found in different disciplinary foundations and motivations, methodologies and perspectives. I demonstrate the benefits of combining garden and environmental history by analysing a twelfth-century garden from China using an ecocultural approach, which examines the material and cultural, ecological and ideological aspects of a particular garden. From this case study I argue that an ecocultural approach offers one way of bridging the divide separating environmental history and garden history, and by extension that spanning material and cultural analyses of gardens and wider environments.”
Butz, Mark. “The Best System of Trenches in Australia”: World War I Training Site, Duntroon Trench Warfare and Bombing School, Jerrabomberra Wetlands Reserve, Canberra. Canberra: Learnscapes and the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust, 2017.
“This book marks the centenary of the Duntroon instructional trench system, a forgotten site and a forgotten story that have emerged from research into the environmental and social history of the Molonglo-Jerrabomberra floodplain in Canberra. Through 1916-17, hundreds of Army officers and senior NCOs from across the country participated in the Trench Warfare and Bombing School at Duntroon, where a model trench system enabled practical demonstration of new technologies and ‘scientific warfare’ that were then in use at the Western Front. In 1916 the Governor-General described it as “The best system of trenches in Australia”. The book goes beyond recounting military history: It recognises the broader historical and geographical context of the site – how landform has shaped the way it has been used, and how it has been valued differently through recorded time. It helps readers and visitors to view that cultural landscape with different eyes – to track its form backwards in time from today’s riverside paddock to a 1920s dairy paddock to the wartime ‘bombing paddock’ to a 19th century lucerne paddock to a riparian resource important to Aboriginal people through at least 21,000 years (all shaped by the floodplain landform). It summarises investigations, both archaeological (with ANU) and historical, and presents important context along the lines of a conservation management plan.”
Campbell, Catriona D., Sarre, Stephen D., Stojanovic, Dejan, Gruber, Bernd, Medlock, Kathryn et al., “When is the Native Species Invasive? Incursion of a Novel Predatory Marsupial Detected Using Molecular and Historical Data?” Diversity and Distributions (2018): doi:10.1111/ddi.12717.
“This research uses verifiable historical records of sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) occurrences in Tasmania such as museum specimens, field notebooks, reliable observation records, peer-reviewed and grey literature. The historical evidence supported the genetic findings to prove that sugar gliders are an invasive species in Tasmania, and are a post European anthropogenic introduction from southern Australia. The data also allowed us to map the front line of sugar glider invasion from Launceston to southern Tasmania. In Tasmania, sugar gliders prey on tree cavity nesting birds such as the threatened swift parrot (Lathamus discolour). However, sugar gliders are wholly protected in Tasmania. It is therefore vitally important to clarify the provenance of Tasmanian sugar gliders to assist in decision making aimed at protecting swift parrots, and in formulating management options, such as eradication, to protect a threatened and declining species.”
Carroll, Trisha and Martin, Mandy. “Davies Creek Road.” In Future Remains: A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene, edited by Gregg Mitman, Marco Armiero and Robert S. Emmett. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018.
“The centrepiece of our painting, Davies Creek Road, is the goanna, or monitor lizard, which is one of Trisha Carroll’s Wiradjuri totems. Our painting alludes to the waves of Anthropogenic extinction that have exacted a slow violence on our valley in Central West New South Wales, Australia.”
Cook, Margaret. “‘A River With a City Problem, Not a City With a River Problem’: Brisbane and its Flood-Prone River.” Environment and History (2018): doi:10.3197/096734018X15137949592034
“This article explores the relationship between the Brisbane River and its river-plain dwelling citizens between 1824 and 1900 through four distinctive narratives. The first is praise for the river for its economic and utilitarian potential until severe flooding in 1893 prompts a second response of incredulity, followed by a third viewpoint demanding engineering solutions to tame nature to prevent future floods. A fourth subordinate voice appeared as an undercurrent to the demands to control nature, reflecting a burgeoning realisation that human action had created the flood hazard. Settlers had created a problem for both the river and the city. I argue that despite the accumulation of flood experience and climatic knowledge, prospective actions have evolved little since the initial British settlement in 1824.”
Cushing, Nancy. “‘Few Commodities Are More Hazardous’: Australian Live Animal Export, 1788-1880.” Environment and History (2018): doi:https://doi.org/10.3197/096734018X15137949591954
“Live animal export has a long history but it is rarely considered in the vigorous contemporary debates surrounding the practice. This article explores the origins, extent and nature of the trade in livestock, primarily sheep and cattle, conducted out of Britain’s first Australian colony, New South Wales, between 1788 and 1880. Drawing upon contemporary accounts and official statistics related to the trade, it contributes to the literature on human–animal relations by exploring the experience of animals during live export and the effect of the trade on attitudes to meat consumption. By subjecting animals to long sea voyages for the purposes of breeding or consumption, live export in the colonial period laid the groundwork for the commodification of animals used for food and the industrialisation of meat production in the twentieth century.”
Cushing, Nancy. “Hazardous Commodities: Australian Live Animal Export From the Long Nineteenth Century to Today.” White Horse Press Blog. February 19, 2018.
“I decided to look into the earliest live animal exports from Australia I could find, with a focus on activity out of the oldest colony, New South Wales, and to focus on the animals currently exported in very large numbers: sheep and cattle. … My article takes up the beginnings of the reversal of this flow, as flock and herd numbers increased to the point where some could be sent on to other destinations. … With the original impetus for the research coming from my concern over the welfare issues which are inseparable from the contemporary live export trade, I wanted to find out about the experience of live export for animals in the nineteenth century.”
Davies, Peter and Lawrence, Susan et al. “Reconstruction of Historical Riverine Sediment Production on the Goldfields of Victoria, Australia.” Anthropocene 21 (2018): 1-15.
“A significant but previously unquantified factor in anthropogenic change in Australian rivers was the release of large volumes of sediment produced by gold mining in the 19th century. This material, known historically as ‘sludge’, rapidly entered waterways adjacent to mining areas and caused major environmental damage. We interrogate detailed historical records from the colony of Victoria spanning the period 1859 to 1891 to reconstruct the temporal and spatial distribution of sediment volumes released by mining activity. Based on these records, we estimate that at least 650 million m3 of material was released into rivers in the 19th century, exceeding natural sediment yield to rivers by an average 140 times. Although the sediment yield per river is not high when compared with examples around the world, the widespread impacts of sludge distinguishes the case of Victoria. The sludge affected three-quarters of catchments in the state due to the large number of small mining operations spread over hundreds of creeks and gullies across the colony. The impacts of sludge to rivers and farmland filled newspapers for more than 50 years and generated numerous parliamentary inquiries. Today, the impacts are largely forgotten and unrecognised, as are the continuing impacts on aquatic systems. The estimates generated in this study provide a basis for understanding the continuing impact of historical mining on Victorian rivers.”
Downes, Liz. “‘A Very Good Livelyhood’: The Native Animal Fur Trade in Victoria.” History Australia 15, no. 1 (2018): 1-24.
“After European settlement in Australia, possums and other marsupials were hunted and trapped for their skins. In the later part of the nineteenth century an international export trade developed to satisfy the growing demand for fashion furs in North America and Europe. Rather than indiscriminate slaughter, it was a socially and economically significant activity. This article traces the relationship between the colonial project, international fashion trends and social and economic demands of settler society. It situates Victoria and its native animal populations in a transnational story and places its environmental history within the greater global sphere.”
Frawley, Jodi. “‘Dancing to the Billabong’s Tune’: Oral History in the Environmental Histories of Murray-Darling Basin Rivers.” In Telling Environmental Histories: Intersections of Memory, Narrative and Environment, edited by Katie Holmes and Heather Goodall, 51-80. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
“This chapter draws on the memories collected through recording oral histories of fishing communities across the Murray–Darling Basin. In 2010–2011, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) called for tenders for an oral history project among local recreational fishers. Based on small-scale preliminary studies, the MDBA believed that the experiences of local recreational fishers may have allowed them to develop valuable environmental knowledge, but that their practice may be at risk from rural depopulation, changing recreational patterns and new technologies such as powerboats and water-skis. The MDBA hoped that research would, first, allow a better assessment of whether local fishers held useful environmental knowledge, second, show how this knowledge might become more accessible to conservation organisations and, third, allow them to understand how recreational patterns of river usage could be encouraged in order to maximise interest in conservation among local residents along this extensive network of rivers.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Grappling with ‘Nature’ in Australian Home Gardens 1890-1960.” Environment and History 24, no. 1 (2018): 23-38.
“The period from 1890 to 1960 in Australia, as elsewhere, is widely acknowledged as pivotal in the development of modernity, involving increasing urbanisation, commodification, nationalism, state power, bureaucratisation, occupational specialisation, technocratic thinking and faith in science. This era ushered in a vastly expanded state infrastructure for environmental management, and saw the rise and fall of progressive conservation activism, as well as precursors to the popular environmentalism emerging in the 1960s. Little, however, is known of how typical middle- and working-class residents of Australian cities and towns understood nature in this period, and how their understandings may have changed in the face of such far-reaching developments. A focus on relationships between people, plants and invertebrates in home garden settings provides one window onto this issue, providing evidence of how those who gardened negotiated a more or less self-conscious engagement with ‘nature’ in a domestic setting. Close examination of texts produced by and for gardeners suggests that while the dominant social construction of the relationship between nature and humans increasingly emphasised human autonomy and control, the embodied experience of home gardening gave rise to diverse understandings. The sense of control and independence that many gardeners had come to expect by the 1950s was challenged by the enduring autonomy of nature, and many gardeners accepted the limitations of their control. Home gardening thus both reflected and challenged prevailing modernist ideas about emancipation from nature.”
Gaynor, Andrea. “Hope in the Wasteland: East Perth City Farm.” In Radical Perth, Militant Fremantle, edited by Charlie Fox, Lenore Layman, Bobbie Oliver, 217-24. Perth: Black Swan Press, 2017.
“In an awkward little corner of the city, wedged between car parks and train tracks, lies the East Perth City Farm. Unsurprisingly, it’s an unconventional farm. Focused on growing people and sustainability amid the instability of boom-and-bust Perth, the farm’s crops and livestock have been symbols as well as tools for its educational and community development aims. While forming part of a vision of inner-city renewal in a de-industrialised landscape, since 1993 it has kept gathering the resources to drive its own education and sustainability agenda, bending government schemes to its own ends and generating revenue through conventional and unconventional means. In doing so it has elided easy categorisation and challenged us to re-think what a city can – and should – be.”
Gaynor, Andrea, Jennings, Philip and Newman, Peter. “A History of Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link, 1955–2017.” In Never Again: Reflections on Environmental Responsibility After Roe 8, edited by Andrea Gaynor, Peter Newman and Philip Jennings, 8-39. Crawley: University of Western Australia Publishing, 2017.
“The Roe Highway – first as a line on a map, then a road extended incrementally in an arc around the southeast of Western Australia’s capital city – provides an insight into the visions of governments and residents for the future of Perth and Fremantle; visions that have shifted and clashed, leading to physical confrontation on more than one occasion. The story of the southwestern end of the highway emerges out of the particularities of local politics, interests and ecologies, but also echoes similar stories of change and conflict in many cities in Australia, the USA and Canada. It illuminates the growth of the belief that private car transport, facilitated by freeways, is the best way to organise urban transport, and how this belief has been both entrenched and challenged. It tracks the rise of environmental awareness and the development of language and actions for expressing attachment to places, especially heritage areas, and resistance to their destruction. And it highlights the pernicious effects of dismantling protections for Aboriginal heritage. These entwined histories are the focus of this chapter. Together, they show us that paths of change are often long and circuitous, and give hope that change for the better is possible.”
Le Get, Rebecca. “A home among the gum trees: The Victorian Sanatorium for Consumptives, Echuca and Mount Macedon.” Landscape Research (2018): doi:10.1080/01426397.2018.1439461.
“The history of the treatment of tuberculosis in Australia has largely been focused on the development of medical treatments, the architectural features of custom-built sanatoria and the human impact of the disease in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These discussions often mention contemporary debates amongst medical men and the laity regarding the best treatment, but the influence of medical climatology in deciding where medical facilities should be placed is often overlooked. The first sanatorium in the Colony of Victoria had two branches: Echuca and Mount Macedon. These two locations differ in terms of altitude, the surrounding forest and meteorological variation. Yet, both sites were considered suitable at the time for the location of a sanatorium, possibly due to the health-promoting and aesthetic aspects of nearby eucalypt forests. This article explores why they may at first modernly appear to be substantially different locations, but contemporary medical climatology emphasised their similarities.”
Le Get, Rebecca. “Isolation, collapsing lungs and spitting bans: three ways we used to treat TB, and still might.” The Conversation September 15, 2017.
“From the middle of the 19th century, until the latter half of the 20th, people with TB were confined in specialised hospitals called sanatoria. In Australia and elsewhere, patients were often placed outside under verandas or on balconies, or in open-sided structures that were little more than sheds. The hope was that by exposing patients to fresh air, they would be cured. It was not until the discovery of effective antibiotics in the 1940s that TB became truly curable. These days, an increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant TB cases sometimes requires lengthy periods of isolation while taking complex cocktails of drugs, until the patient is no longer infectious. In Australia, this isolation no longer happens in sanatoria, but in isolation rooms in general hospitals.”
Goodall, Heather. “Rivers, Memory and Migrancy: Everyday Place-Making in Changing Environments.” In Telling Environmental Histories: Intersections of Memory, Narrative and Environment, edited by Katie Holmes and Heather Goodall, 31-50. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
“This [chapter] considers three case studies drawn from different projects about the environment, which each used oral history methodology extensively. One, from the Talking Fish project, concerns Aboriginal people on the upper Darling River; the second, from the Parklands, Culture and Diversity project, relates to Vietnamese Australians on the densely populated and industrialised middle Georges River (between Casula and Oatley) in south-western Sydney. The third case study is from my current project, Sustainability and Climate Change (which is investigating ethnic diversity and attitudes to the environment). In this, I continue to work in south-western Sydney, but this time with the Bangladeshi communities along the length of the Georges River. Fish and fishing are the foci: each of the three groups discussed here eat fish frequently, and often daily. … In each project, our multi-disciplinary teams (which have included historians, biologists, archaeologists, geographers and sociologists) have found that life histories allowed insights into these food choices – and the impacts they have on the environment – which were not otherwise accessible.”
Griffiths, Billy. Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia. Melbourne: Black Inc., 2018.
“Deep Time Dreaming … investigates a twin revolution: the reassertion of Aboriginal identity in the second half of the twentieth century, and the uncovering of the traces of ancient Australia. It explores what it means to live in a place of great antiquity, with its complex questions of ownership and belonging. It is about a slow shift in national consciousness: the deep time dreaming that has changed the way many of us relate to this continent and its enduring, dynamic human history.” *The Conversation and Inside Story published extracts from Deep Time Dreaming on March 2 and March 23, 2018.
Griffiths, Tom. “Radical Histories for Uncanny Times.” Big Ideas. ABC Radio National. February 27, 2018.
“Scientists say human activity has so profoundly changed the earth that we’re now living in a new epoch, the Anthropocene. Our age is marked by mass extinctions, pollution and climate change. Yet we’re slow to comprehend the scale of the problem or to act to avert disaster. That’s why we need radical histories for these uncanny times.” *This program was recorded on February 15, 2018 as part of the HumanNature Sydney Environmental Humanities Lecture Series.
Higgins, Matthew. Bold Horizons: High-Country Place, People and Story. Kenthurst, NSW: Rosenberg Publishing, 2018.
“Higgins traces the mountain experience in a rich variety of ways. Firstly he talks of his own times in the alps as a bushwalker, cross-country skier, historian, and oral-history interviewer. Then, he profiles a range of people who have worked, lived, or played in the mountains: stockmen, skiers, Indigenous parks officers, rangers, brumby runners, foresters, authors, tourism operators, and others. The central themes of place, people, and story are interwoven with concerns about environmental impact and climate change. An extensive collection of beautiful images helps to tell the magnificent mountain story, from Kosciuszko to Kiandra, Brindabella to Bimberi and Bogong, to Tidbinbilla and beyond.”
Higgins, Matthew. “Magic and Mystery in Oral History.” Unbound December (2017).
“The stories told by interviewees are a rich and captivating record of the Australian experience in all its forms. I’ve always regarded it as a privilege to be able to bring so many of these stories into the collection of one of our most important national cultural institutions. Of the many people I’ve interviewed, the majority have now passed away, reminding us all of the fragility of memory and how tentative is our hold on the past.”
Higgins, Matthew. “Stately Spires: The Capital’s Arboreta.” Australian Garden History 29, no. 2 (2017): 23-25.
“During the 40 years from 1928 to 1968, over 30 mountain arboreta were planted, mostly on the Australian Capital Territory’s highest mountain range, the Brindabellas, to answer an Australian timber quandary. With plenty of native hardwoods, but only a handful of native softwoods, how could we develop a softwood industry so necessary for construction purposes? In answering that question the arboreta went beyond their immediate objective and left a legacy of significant tree species from around the world, their coniferous spires becoming for many a place of beauty and edification. Today of course the vast swathes given over to plantations of Monterey pine or ‘radiata’ (Pinus radiata) in southeastern Australia show where our softwoods mainly come from. But radiata’s success wasn’t assured in the early years, and if disease struck it then other species needed to be in reserve. To make an informed decision about what to plant, ACT foresters set up the arboreta as research plots.”
Holmes, Katie. “‘It’s the Devil You Know’: Environmental Stories from the Victorian Mallee.” In Telling Environmental Histories: Intersections of Memory, Narrative and Environment, edited by Katie Holmes and Heather Goodall, 295-318. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
“Oral history is full of intimate, intricate narratives; the life histories shared in this project balance the broad sweep of environmental change with the detail of the daily. They are living stories, shaping people’s understanding of their past and often used as a guide to their future. Oral history offers the opportunity to locate and interrogate individual lives within their webs of interconnected worlds. And it enables us to weave into those webs the sensory and emotional lives of the people who filled them. It can add texture and depth, enriching our histories and enabling us to better understand the dynamic relationship between people and the environments they have transformed. In this chapter I use oral history interviews to explore the ways in which the gendered identities of our participants are shaped by their understanding of the land. This relationship with the land also shapes a strong collectively felt sense of Mallee identity. Past narratives of settler-Australian land use shape the ways people respond to present challenges, and participants regularly look to the past as a guide for the present. This chapter also explores the ways individual lives can disrupt and challenge the meta-narratives of colonial and national progress, of pioneering and the frontier, at the same time as those meta-narratives shape the ways in which individuals seek to frame their life story and anticipate their future.”
Holmes, Katie and Goodall, Heather. “Introduction: Telling Environmental Histories.” In Telling Environmental Histories: Intersections of Memory, Narrative and Environment, edited by Katie Holmes and Heather Goodall, 1-30. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
“This collection is the first devoted specifically to exploring the intersections of oral history and environmental history. Oral history offers environmental historians the oppounrity to understand the ways people’s perceptions, experiences and beliefs about environments – places in which people have lived, worked and played – change over time. Oral history brings attention to memory and story-telling, and in particular to the stories that everyday men and women tell about the environments they move into and across. It brings the opportunity to explore dimensions of class and race and gender into the experience of places. In turn, the insights of environmental history challenge oral historians to think more critically about the ways an active more-than-human world shapes experiences and people, the mutually constitute relationship between people and places that is a core understanding of environmental history. The integration of these approaches enables us to more fully and ctically understand the ways cultural and individual memory and experience shapes human interactions with the more-than-human world, just as it enables us to identify the ways human memory, identity and experience is moulded by the landscapes and environments in which people live and labour.”
Kitson, Janine. “Koalas to Possums to Humboldt’s Web of Life.” National Parks Association of New South Wales. March 1, 2018.
“Towards the end of 2017 four environmental history courses were held at the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA, Sydney): Where have all the Koalas gone?; Possums, Power & the Protection of the Australian Environment; People, Passion & the Protection of the Australian Environment; Alexander von Humboldt. These courses explored several questions, such as: Why has the science of ecology been ignored, dismissed and discarded? Why does deforestation aggressively continue? Why are we failing to protect biodiversity from planetary disaster?”
Mart, Michelle and Muir, Cameron. “The Manual Pesticide Spray Pump.” In Future Remains: A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene, edited by Gregg Mitman, Marco Armiero and Robert S. Emmett. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018.
“If we accept Rachel Carson’s metaphor that chemical weed killers are a bright new toy, the same is surely true of the ubiquitous device once used to dispense them: the manual pesticide pump. … The pump may have been a humble instrument, but it nevertheless illustrates the hubris of a culture convinced it can launch – and win – a war against nature, in this case by chemically manipulating it.”
McGregor, Russell. “Excursions Through Emptiness: Interwar Travel Writing on Northern Australia.” Journal of Australian Studies 4, no. 4 (2017): 421-34.
“During the interwar years, Australians grew increasingly anxious about their sparsely populated north. They had moral qualms about leaving land idle; they felt uneasy about international criticism of their lacklustre efforts in the tropics; they feared a stronger, more resolute nation might rob them of their under-utilised heritage. While anxieties intensified, there was an efflorescence of travel writing on northern Australia, as cars and aeroplanes made this part of the continent a little more accessible. Like other travel writers, those on northern Australia in the interwar years did not confine their narratives to what they did and what they saw. They commented on the burning questions of the day: on what the future of the north might hold and whether Australia’s northern lands could sustain a prolific white population. This article explores a range of representations of northern Australia in the travel literature published between the two world wars, with particular attention to the varied assessments of Australia’s tropical environments and the racial misgivings that disconcerted attempts to envisage an all-white north.”
McIntyre, Julie and Germov, John. “The Rise and Fall of Ben Ean Moselle and What it Says About Australian Society.” The Conversation February 12, 2018.
“Do you remember Lindeman’s Ben Ean Moselle? This slim-bottled, white table wine was quaffed in great quantities in the 1970s. It played a leading role in democratising wine drinking in Australia as tastes began to diversify from an almost exclusively beer-drinking nation. As we discuss in the Journal of Australian Studies, Ben Ean’s fortunes were aligned with tremendous social flux between the 1960s and 1980s. According to industry luminary Philip Laffer, Ben Ean was invented by accident in 1956. It boomed in the 70s but began to decline in popularity in the mid-1980s as fine wine became more desirable. In 2009, the company that owned the Lindeman’s brand stopped making the wine.”
McIntyre, Julie and Germov, John. “‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ I Do: Postwar Australian Wine, Gendered Culture and Class.” Journal of Australian Studies 42 (2018): 65-84.
“During an era of expanding social inclusion in the 1960s and 1970s, Australians increasingly drank more wine than at any previous time in colonial or national history. These wines were made in new styles and consumed in accordance with new habits across gender and class. The morphology of one of Australia’s most popular “introduction wines” of this period, Lindeman’s Ben Ean Moselle, reveals the emergence of new elements of national character. From being advertised to women in the late 1960s as “just right”, Ben Ean’s cultural messaging in the 1970s flirted with general appeal to men and women of the new middle class: “anywhere, anytime”. Then, by the mid-1980s, the ascendancy of this light, semi-sweet table wine was halted by the emergence of an elitism in which new professionals favoured consumer products of provenanced distinction. The arc of Ben Ean’s rise and fall symbolises an informalisation and subsequent reformalisation of values, conventions and identities during a time of social and cultural flux.”
Morgan, Ruth. “Looking Back, Looking Forward: A Historian Goes to COP23.” HistoricalClimatology.com. December 21, 2017.
“I joined the most recent UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn with a delegation from Monash University, which also included legal scholars, renewable energy specialists, and science communicators. The opportunity to observe and participate in the activities that accompany the negotiations was too good to pass up. Both personally and professionally, I have closely followed the machinations of international climate politics over the past decade, with particular attention to the work of Australian scientists and policymakers in the past and present. Attending and participating in the conference offered the chance to see firsthand how delegates and other actors negotiate and deliberate to shape the future of our planet. Here, I reflect on the different ways that the past inflected these discussions, and how they resonate with the fields of climate and environmental history.”
Morgan, Ruth. “Watering the West: Perth’s Thirsty History and Dry Future.” Foreground. February 22, 2018.
“As Cape Town scrambles to avoid ‘Day Zero’, some commentators have pointed to the Australian city of Perth as an example of how this crisis might have been avoided. Just over a decade ago, experts predicted a similar fate for the Western Australian capital as a run of dry winters, combined with a drying climate and growing population, stretched the city’s water resources to their limit. Only a combination of supply augmentation and demand management saved Perth from running out. But these strategies were not conjured over night, nor was their implementation smooth sailing. Rather, they were the culmination of decades of planning and experience in an unforgiving environment.”
Muir, Cameron. “Ode to the Bin Chicken.” Overland February 16, 2018.
“We call them bin chickens, tip turkeys and dump chooks. We complain about their presence, appearance and smell. Instead, we should wonder at their ingenuity and gritty determination to survive. They are ‘a marvel of evolution’, reported Anne Jones for ABC Radio National. Ibis are sentinels of the Anthropocene, the epoch in our planet’s geological history named after us because we have altered so much of its systems. The ibis call our attention to our shadow places, the places we draw resources from but don’t have to think about. While the rivers remain out-of-sight and out-of-mind, the unscrupulous will continue to think they can get away with stealing environment flows, tampering with water meters, and corrupting the public administration of water. I’m heartened to see the social media campaign in support of the maligned ibis. Perhaps this is the first step towards resurrecting an ibis cult.”
Neale, Timothy and May, Daniel. “Bushfire Simulators and Analysis in Australia: Insights into an Emerging Sociotechnical Practice.” Environmental Hazards (2017): doi:10.1080/17477891.2017.1410462
“The present context of escalating environmental risks places increased pressure and importance on our technical ability to predict and mitigate the potential consequences and occurrence of major natural hazards such as bushfire (or ‘wildfire’). Over the past decade, bushfire prediction in Australia, as in many other fire-prone countries, has increasingly come to involve both trained fire behaviour analysts and complex computer-based two-dimensional bushfire simulation models. During this transitional moment in bushfire management, there is a clear need to better understand the ways in which such predictive technologies and practitioners influence how we anticipate, encounter and manage this natural hazard and its effects. In this paper, the authors seek to prepare the ground for studies of the social dimensions of bushfire prediction by investigating how simulators and predictive practitioners have been mobilised and represented in Australia to date. The paper concludes by posing several questions that bushfire practitioners, policy-makers and researchers alike in Australia and elsewhere will need to address as our flammable future emerges.”
Oosthoek, K. Jan and Hölzl, Richard, Managing Northern Europe’s Forests: Histories from the Age of Improvement to the Age of Ecology, Berghahn Books, Oxford, 2018. http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/OosthoekManaging
“Northern Europe was, by many accounts, the birthplace of much of modern forestry practice, and for hundreds of years the region’s woodlands have played an outsize role in international relations, economic growth, and the development of national identity. Across eleven chapters, the contributors to this volume survey the histories of state forestry policy in Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Germany, Poland, and Great Britain from the early modern period to the present. Each explores the complex interrelationships of state-building, resource management, knowledge transfer, and trade over a period characterized by ongoing modernization and evolving environmental awareness.” The book includes four chapters written or co-authored by K. Jan Oosthoek: ‘Introduction: State Forestry in Northern Europe’ (with Richard Hölzl); ‘State Forestry in the Netherlands: from Liberalism to Nature Creation’; ‘Origins and Development of State Forestry in the United Kingdom’; and ‘Conclusion: National Histories, Shared Legacies: State Forestry in Northern Europe in Comparison’ (with Richard Hölzl).
Pearce, Lilian. “Restoring Broken Histories.” Australian Historical Studies 48, no. 4 (2017): 569-91.
“Between 1936 and 1938, a regeneration project was established in the remote city of Broken Hill, New South Wales. It is now considered one of the earliest examples of ecological restoration. Triggered by dust storms and sand drift, local people, industry and council collaborated to restore a vegetated green belt around their city. This article considers ‘The Regen’ within a history of settler transformations of the Australian environment. Four histories told through plants speak to the emergence of an ecological consciousness and contribute to ethical considerations in ecological restoration amidst shifting contingencies of climate, politics and the global economy.” *Winner of the 2016 Ken Inglis Postgraduate Prize for best paper presented by a postgraduate student to the annual Australian Historical Association conference. Read the judges’ comments here.
Regan, Jane. “‘Racy of the Soil’: Ian Mudie, Right-Wing Nationalism, and the South Australian Soil Erosion Crisis.” Environment and History (2018): doi: 10.3197/096734018X15137949592007.
“Ian Mudie was an Adelaide-based freelance journalist, short story and history writer, and most notably a passionate and political poet. During the 1930s and 1940s the degradation of South Australian agricultural and pastoral soil inspired Mudie to evoke soil in his poetry. Soil also proved a useful metaphor which Mudie could deploy in aid of his right-wing political stance. Critics and historians have described Mudie either as a ‘nationalist or propagandist’ and a ‘hectoring’ nationalist, or, alternatively, as an early conservationist and even a ‘proto ecologist’; none address the intersection of environmental concern and right-wing nationalism in his poetry and politics. This article will interrogate the relationship between these two ideologies in Mudie’s work. Despite echoes of Nazi ‘blood and soil’ ideology, Mudie’s soil erosion poetry was primarily the product of his settler imagination, and resonated with ‘cultural nationalists’ in the Australian literary community.”
Robin, Libby. “Anthropocene Cabinets of Curiosity: Objects of Strange Change.” In Future Remains: A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene, edited by Gregg Mitman, Marco Armiero and Robert S. Emmett. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018.
“In these strange and uncertain times, the curious juxtapositions of Wunderkammern, as Libby Robin argues here, invite a salutary reconsideration of the Enlightenment notion of a humanity set apart from Nature that has held sway even as it has become apparent that we live in a post-natural world.
Robin, Libby. “Domestication in a Post-Industrial World.” In The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, edited by Ursula Heise, Jon Christensen and Michelle Nieman, 46-56. London and New York: Routledge, 2017.
“This chapter begins with domestication and agriculture in the Middle East and Europe, an old-fashioned linear narrative of civilisation, and considers why it has become pertinent in our present environmental crisis. It then considers the legacies of the historical moment when Europe expanded and the associated “ecological imperialism” (Crosby) that transferred animals and plants to the neo-Europes. In the post-imperial era, terms such as native and alien have become controversial, bringing together discussions from invasion biology, anthropology, and environmental psychology. As the ecological limits of place have affected the behaviours of animals, the domesticated become de-domesticated or feral, and enemies of the agricultural project. Finally I return to Europe where re-domestication is emerging as a civilising art in our post-industrial era.”
Robin, Libby. “Environmental humanities and climate change: understanding humans geologically and other life forms ethically.” WIREs Climate Change 9, no. 1 (2017): e499.
“The task of reconceptualizing planetary change for the human imagination calls on a wide range of disciplinary wisdom. Environmental studies were guided by the natural sciences in the 1960s, and in the 1970s broadened to include policy and the social sciences. By the 1990s, with global environmental changes well‐documented, various humanist initiatives emerged, expanding the idea of ethics, responsibility and justice within the transdisciplinary mode of environmental studies. Shared problems, places, and scales form the basis for collaborative work in the environmental humanities, sometimes in partnerships with natural sciences and the creative arts. Experiential learning and trust in judgments based on different methods typically guide humanities interventions. Shifting the frameworks of environmental research to be more consciously inclusive and diverse is enabling concepts of the physical world that better include humans and taking ethics beyond humans to consider more‐than‐human Others. This review considers historically how the environment and the humanities became conceptualized together. It then explores three emerging fields in transdisciplinary environmental scholarship where environmental humanities are playing major leadership roles: (1) climate and biodiversity justice, both for humans and for other forms of life; (2) the Anthropocene as a metaphor for living with planetary changes and (3) life after ‘the end of nature,’ including rewilding and restoration. While environmental humanities also work in many other fields, these cases exemplify the crucial tasks of situating the human in geological and ecological terms and other life forms (the ‘more‐than‐human’) in ethical terms.”
Rothenburg, Daniel. “‘The Majesty of Concrete’: Hume Dam and Australian Modernity.” Zeitschrift für Australienstudien / Australian Studies Journal 31 (2017): 101-13.
“In the twentieth century, [dams] became fascinating objects, which attracted the attention not only of politicians and engineers, but also of the public. Dams became popular destinations for tourists and powerful metaphors for progress and modernity, ‘signs and wish images of a better society that was yet to arrive’ (Kaika: 296). Thus, exploring the meaning, the embedded cultural code, of the Hume Dam can prove useful to understand the promises, hopes, and fears – in short: the ideology – invested in the expansion of hydro-engineering for irrigated agriculture and hydro-electricity in twentieth century Australia. I will argue that this ideology that developed in the early century was a highly specific and radical Australian blend of ‘High Modernism’. It amalgamated the settler nationalist dream of populating the arid inland with the modern confidence in the continued mastery of nature and thus the further satisfaction of human needs.”
Twigg, Karen. “‘Another Weed Will Come Along’: Attitudes to Weeds, Land and Community in the Victorian Mallee.” In Telling Environmental Histories: Intersections of Memory, Narrative and Environment, edited by Katie Holmes and Heather Goodall, 213-40. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
“This article argues the value of oral testimony in explicating a key concern of environmental history: how has this seemingly natural world been shaped by the images, words and ideas that humans bring to it? In particular, I explore the stories that farmers tell about their relationship with weeds. The very subjectivity of the term ‘weed’ offers fertile ground for the environmental historian, the label we give such plants varying depending on time, place and circumstance.1 From the perspective of farmers, weeds are typically categorised as plants that are ‘useless’ in contrast to crops that are ‘useful’. Like European settlers, weeds came to Australia as opportunistic colonisers. They hid in seed stock, lurked in clothing or packing, and clung to the bodies of livestock. As a large continent, isolated for millennia from the rest of the world, Australia was particularly vulnerable to their incursions. The predators and pathogens that had kept their numbers within bounds in their homeland frequently did not exist here, nor did some of their natural competitors. Weeds can seem to be entirely natural, flouting all human attempts to suppress them, while at the same time remaining reliant on human behaviour for their existence. Pre-adapted to flourish in disturbed soil in competition with Europeanised crops, only humans have played a greater role in shaping the practice of agriculture.”
Tyrrell, Ian. River Dreams: The People and Landscape of the Cooks River. Sydney: NewSouth, 2018.
“River Dreams reveals the complex history of the Cooks River in south-eastern Sydney — a river renowned as Australia’s most altered and polluted. While nineteenth century developers called it ‘improvement’, the sugar mill, tanneries, and factories that lined the banks of Sydney’s Cooks River had drastic consequences for the health of the river. Local Aboriginal people became fringe dwellers, and over time the river became severely compromised, with many ecosystems damaged or destroyed. Later, a large section was turned into a concrete canal, and in the late 1940s the river was rerouted for the expansion of Sydney Airport. While much of the river has been rehabilitated in recent decades by passionate local groups and through government initiatives, it continues to be a source of controversy with rapid apartment development placing new stresses on the region. River Dreams is a timely reminder of the need to tread cautiously in seeking to dominate, or ignore, our environment.”
Warde, Paul, Robin, Libby & Sorlin, Sverker. “Stratigraphy for the Renaissance: Questions of expertise for ‘the environment’ and ‘the Anthropocene’.” Anthropocene Review 4, no. 3 (2017): 246-258.
“This article examines the short history of scientific decision-making and expertise in deliberations about the validity of the term ‘Anthropocene’ by the International Commission on Stratigraphy. Contrary to fears that the Anthropocene debates constitute a politicisation of proper scientific practice, it argues that periodisation and categorisation in science (in stratigraphy, in this case) typically draws on expertise and information outside core disciplinary practice. When broad integrative concepts come into play, knowledge itself is reshaped. Disciplines and ‘non-scientific’ concerns develop new relations with each other. This is what happened in the Renaissance, when science itself emerged in its modern form. Here parallels are drawn between the emergence of the concept ‘the environment’ in the post-war era and the 21st-century struggles over the idea of ‘the Anthropocene’. The politics of science create uncertainties but equally nurture emergent possibilities for analysis that are not unlike the broad categories and periodisations – such as the Renaissance – in the humanities.”
Whish-Wilson, David, Dravnieks, Kim, Bartlett, Alison and Gaynor, Andrea. “A Twenty-first Century Grassroots Protest.” In Never Again: Reflections on Environmental Responsibility After Roe 8, edited by Andrea Gaynor, Peter Newman and Philip Jennings, 80-106. Crawley: University of Western Australia Publishing, 2017.
“The grassroots campaign against Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link (PFL) was long and multidimensional, involving community based organisations and associations, local councils, political parties and concerned citizens from all walks of life. Characterised by exceptional endurance, wit and acumen, the most recent campaign began with information stalls and rallies and escalated to formal legal challenges and civil disobedience, public spectacle and satire. It pitted extraordinarily committed but marginally resourced citizens against the might of major state institutions in an unequal contest that took a personal and financial toll on many campaigners. In this way it was like the best-known Australian environmental conflicts: Lake Pedder, the Franklin River, the Great Barrier Reef, the Little Desert, the South West forests. Unlike these, it was city-based. Australia has seen several urban environmental conflicts, from the 1970s anti-freeway protests in Melbourne and the NSW Builders Labourers Federation’s ‘green bans’ in Sydney, to struggles over Star Swamp and Hepburn Heights in the northern suburbs of Perth. The fight against Roe 8 and the PFL shared the passion and innovation of other urban conflicts, but differed in the way it brought together such a wide range of issues: nature conservation, Aboriginal heritage, sustainable transport and infrastructure, government accountability, health and wellbeing, and community cohesion.”
Willis, Ian. “A Field of Dreams, the Camden District, 1840-1973.” Camden History Notes (February 19, 2018).
“It is hard to imagine now but in days gone by the township of Camden was the centre of a large district. The Camden district became the centre of people’s daily lives for well over a century and the basis of their sense of place and community identity.”
Willis, Ian. “New Horizons Open Up for the New Community of Oran Park and the Finishing Line for the Former Oran Park Raceway.” Camden History Notes (February 21, 2018).
“Oran Park Raceway was doomed in 2008 to be part of history when it was covered with houses in a new suburb with the same name. It was also the name of a former pastoral property that was part of the story of the settler society within the Cowpastures. The locality is the site of hope and loss for both locals and new arrivals.”