Abstracts – JRAHS Vol 99, Part 2 December 2013

‘Patronised servants’: Australian scientists in the 1940s

This paper seeks to probe politically engaged Australian scientists who were prepared to desert their ivory towers, exchange the laboratory for the soapbox and assume social responsibility during the swiftly changing political environment of the 1940s. It will examine these scientists through the lens of the Australian Association of Scientific Workers (AASW), which vigorously resisted the push for science to serve the needs of the state and, equally robustly, defended the long-held but increasingly besieged tradition of social responsibility in science. The paper will examine this tradition: that science was not an endeavour that occurred in isolation, but was – and should be – influenced by society. In assessing whether the goals pursued by AASW scientists altered during the early Cold War, or whether they remained largely consistent with pre-war and wartime goals, the paper will argue that the AASW was ill-prepared for, and overwhelmed by, the speed with which Cold War anti-communism moved from the margins to the mainstream of social and political life.

 

The Australian Museum’s Classical Sculpture collection

The Australian Museum is well known as Australia’s oldest natural history museum. In the mid-19thcentury, however, it displayed a large collection of classical sculpture, mainly casts, the result of a gift and a purchase. The thinking behind the Museum’s foundation Act of 1853 was that it be modelled on the British Museum with both a fine arts and a science role. This paper explores how the Australian Museum acquired a collection of classical statues, what happened to them, and how this allows us to look at why its collections went beyond the natural history core.

 

George Vandiemen: A Tasmanian Aborigine in Lancashire, England, (1822-27)

The article traces the history of a Tasmanian Aboriginal boy, George Vandiemen, who was sent to Liverpool, England for his education and is based on a range of letters found in the government records in the Tasmanian Archives. It is possibly the only documented incidence of this kind. The interest lies not just in the curiosity of the event itself, but also in what it reveals about British knowledge of and attitude to race at the time. The article is set within the context of the early history of Tasmania, and its devastating conflict between Aborigines and colonists.

 

Lights, Camera, Fire! Cinematic representations of World War One’s Middle East Front and its Palestine Campaign

As we approach the centenary of World War One, we can look back on how communal memory has been shaped by audiovisual materials. Two important Australian feature films, separated by nearly 50 years, provide the basis for an exploration of the memories of the First World War as timeless and as having shaped the national historical memory of Australia. Australia’s tremendous contribution to the Middle East front in World War One was reflected in two important Australian films portraying a model of the Australian experience in the Holy Land and the heroic deeds of the Anzacs. The background of the two different periods in which the films were created also expresses the era and desires of the soldiers, and serves as a warning or lesson for other twentieth century wars in which the Australians and English-speaking countries took part.

 

Misconceptions, Myths, and Maps: A fresh look at Armidale’s ‘Galloway Grid’

It is over 30 years since DN Jeans wrote, in this journal, about the work of the Surveyor-General’s department in town design, and outlined the basic procedures used. This paper, by means of a case study of Armidale NSW, argues that more work is needed to build on Jean’s insights, and establish how the department worked on a day-to-day basis. Historians of Armidale have accepted, rather uncritically and without evidence, a thesis that the town was ‘designed’ by the local surveyor, Galloway. They also seem to have been very selective in their use of correspondence to and from the Surveyor-General’s department. The situation was, in fact, rather more complex.

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