Category Archives: AHA Conference 2013

AHA Rethinking Indigenous Histories podcast

You might remember that I blogged about the Rethinking Indigenous Histories panel at the recent AHA conference that I attended in Wollongong.

The podcast of the session is now available at Radio National’s Big Ideas page.

The panel, chaired by Richard Broome, Emeritus Professor of History at La Trobe University  included:

Professor John Maynard
Director of the Wollotuka Institute of Aboriginal Studies, University of Newcastle. He is a Worimi man from the Port Stephens region of New South Wales and currently holds an ARC Australian Research Fellowship (Indigenous).
Professor Tim Rowse
School of Humanities and Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney
Professor Marcia Langton AO
Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne
Professor Ann McGrath
Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History at the Australian National University.

‘Larrikins’ wins Ernest Scott Prize


Congratulations to Melissa Bellanta, whose book Larrikins:A History ( you can see my review of the book here) won the Ernest Scott Prize, announced at the Wollongong Conference last week.  The prize is awarded to the book judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the History of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonization published in the previous year. The shortlist for this year’s prize was:

  • Webs of Empire: Locating New Zealand’s Colonial Past (Tony Ballantyne, Bridget Williams Books)
  • Larrikins: A History (Melissa Bellanta, UQP)
  • University Unlimited: The Monash Story (Graeme Davison & Kate Murphy, A&U)
  • The Lone Protestor: A M Fernando in Australia and Europe (Fiona Paisley, Aboriginal Studies Press)
  • Tasmanian Aborigines: A History Since 1803 (Lyndall Ryan, A&U).

The citation for Larrikins  from the judges for the prize, Professor Mark Finnane (Griffith University) and Professor Philippa Mein-Smith (University of Canterbury) reads:

A landmark first book by a young scholar, Larrikins stands out for its liveliness, centrality to issues in Australian culture and politics, and breadth of approach, including attention to patterns of speech and youth behaviour,  style and dress. Melissa Bellanta unpacks the origins of Aussie larrikinism as a cultural phenomenon (and performance) that originated on city streets.  Noting that Ned Kelly perceived the larrikin as a city version of himself in 1879, she asks why the larrikin became such a mythic type in Australian identity formation. Contextualised by a social history that locates the shaping of a colonial urban youth culture in the wake of the gold rushes, Larrikins teases out how Australians turned a term of abuse imported as dialect from the United Kingdom into a national mythology once merged with the image of the digger during the First World War. This youth culture – attracted by the pull of the ‘push’ rather than the bush – was ‘flash’, exhibitionist and violent. Part of the book’s appeal is the way in which Bellanta engages with the language and conduct of her youthful larrikin subjects, young ‘brazen’ women as well as men. The quality of research, engagement with the spoken word, connections with the theatre and visual culture place this engaging work in a singular category. Its inter-disciplinary achievement is considerable, respecting the best scholarly conventions of archival history while deploying analytic and interpretative tools from literary and cultural studies that illuminate this phenomenon of Australian history.  Based on rigorous primary research, this work addresses a core aspect of Australianness and Australian sensibility in a refreshing, thoroughly readable but equally scholarly way.

A conference-eye view of Wollongong

Well, a conference-eye view of any place is going to be a very short-sighted one because most of the time is spent at the venue, or travelling to or from it.   I must admit that I didn’t really get to see much of Wollongong at all.

It was only when I thought about it that I realized that I have never been to Wollongong.  No- wait- I spent exactly one day there as part of the field work on a Work Integrated Learning research project that I worked on in my Other Life as an Educational Designer about -eek!- thirteen years ago.  But I have never spent an extended time there. Continue reading

AHA Conference 12 July

Trains and planes wait for no-one (even though we certainly wait for THEM!) so I attended only one session of the Conference today and had to leave before the final plenary.  Yvonne Perkins at Stumbling Through the Past may write about it, as she has also been blogging the conference.


The theme of the conference was “Mobilities and Mobilisations in History”.  Many of the papers addressed the first theme, but the final session that I attended was focussed on the second: ‘Mobilising Australia in World War II’. Some late arrivals and car breakdowns meant the presentations did not follow the order in the program, so I’ll report them in a more logical progression than I heard them. Continue reading

Australian Historical Association Conference 11 July 2013

Day Three opened with a plenary panel ‘Rethinking Indigenous Histories’, featuring Marcia Langton (University of Melbourne), Tim Rowse (UWS) and John Maynard (University of Newcastle). Both Langton and Maynard are Indigenous scholars.  The aim of the session was to consider recent developments in the writing of Indigenous histories, although the presentations and the questions that followed ranged further than that. Continue reading

AHA Conference 10th July 2013

The morning started with the Keynote address by Matt Matsuda from Rutgers University. His paper was titled  ‘New Pacific Histories: Ocean, Motion, Emotion: Mobilities and mobilizations in History’. What a beautifully crafted, lyrical performance this was!  Continue reading

AHA conference Tuesday 9th July 2013

I’m up at Wollongong for the next few days for the Australian Historical Association Conference. Yvonne Perkins, who blogs at Stumbling Through the Past is here as well and assiduous networker that she is,  encouraged me to blog the conference as she did last year (and is doing again this year).  One of the frustrations of a streamed conference is that you often find yourself wishing that you could be in two places at once, so I guess that reading someone’s impressions of what they have heard is a rather distant next best thing. However,  I’m very conscious that I may misrepresent what I thought I heard- so this is my best shot and apologies if I have misunderstood.

You can download the full version of the abstracts (PDF) AHA_Program_FullAbstracts28June in order to read the speakers’ intentions for their presentations.

Continue reading