Research

Research

Research in Modern History covers the fields of Australian, Aboriginal, European and world history. Research strengths in the discipline include the history of gender and sexuality; biographic and oral histories; the history of ideas in everyday life; and public and popular history.

Research in Politics and International Relations covers the broad fields of Australian, comparative and international politics, political (including international) theory, foreign policy and public policy. Specific research projects include US foreign policy, nationalism and the state, secessionism Europe and Eurasian national and international politics, Middle East and North African politics, North/South relations, the history of ideas, religion and politics, environmental politics, regionalism in the Southwest Pacific, the politics of indigenous identity, the politics of sexuality and the politics of the family.

Research clusters

Biographic and Oral History

Historians in this cluster investigate how individuals have experienced, challenged and even produced social, political and cultural change. In particular, we are interested in how historical circumstances produce ways of feeling, being and seeing the world, how these subjectivities made it possible to both make and resist change, and how the study of personal, familial and intimate life can differently explain the cause and effect of these historical transformations. We both investigate and unsettle the relationship between the individual and the social, the emotional and the cultural, the familial and the political, and even question whether Western conceptions of the autonomous self should be employed to tell stories about Europe's historical others. Modern History staff in this research concentration include;

Research projects include:

Leigh Boucher: I am currently working on an ARC funded project with Professor Lynette Russell (Monash) that investigates how anthropologists and ethnographers in colonial Victoria imagined Aboriginal people, this project will produced a collective biography of this intellectual community and their personal engagements with Aboriginal people.

Matthew Bailey:I research and write on business, retail and urban history. I use oral history to explore corporate culture, management decision-making, firm strategy and self-understandings of technological change. My current work involves oral history interviews with industry leaders in the retail property sector, and is part of a broader project charting the history of the shopping centre form in Australia. I also employ other methodologies, such as gathering written testimony, to explore ordinary people’s usage and experiences of mass-consumption environments over time.

Sean Brawley: Utilising a historie croisee approach and interchanging between macro and micro foci, I am currently writing a history of Australia's first successful legal challenge to the White Australia Policy.  The narrative is driven by the life histories of a wide range of historical actors captured from across class, nationality, gender, race, time and place.

Tanya Evans: I recently wrote a history of Australia's oldest charity, The Benevolent Society (established in 1813), using oral histories and the biographies of family historians. This led me to my current focus on the practice and meanings of family history in Canada, Australia and England and its impact on historical consciousness. I am also using biography and autobiography to write a history of swimming in twentieth-century Australia and I have used collective biographies to examine imperial philanthropic networks in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Kate Fullagar:I am currently working on a collective biography of three entangled figures of the 18th century: the British artist Joshua Reynolds, the Cherokee warrior Ostenaco, and the Polynesian wanderer Mai, as a means to explore ideas of empire, self, and the genre of biography.

Mark Hearn:I am currently conducting research into Australian Prime Minister Alfred Deakin, and, with Professor John Shepherd, Huddersfield University, a comparative study of Australian and British Labor leaders John Christian Watson and Ramsay MacDonald.

Alison Holland: My book on Mary Montgomerie Bennett (UWA Publishing) explores her humanitarianism via critical parts of her biography. I have also written entries for the Australian Dictionary of Biography on male Indigenous activists and am interested in how biographies can inform our understanding of Australian social, cultural and political history.

Rebecca Jennings: I am drawing on 50 life history interviews with lesbians across Australia as part of my research into lesbian practices of intimacy since 1945; and I am working on a biography of Sydney lesbian, Sandra Willson.

Robert Reynolds, Rebecca Jennings and Shirleene Robinson (with Graham Willett UniM, Clive Moore UQ and the National Library of Australia): "Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories" - this ARC linkage project uses oral history to investigate the way lesbian and gay individuals have negotiated intimate social change in Australia's past.

Robert Reynolds: I am investigating the emotional impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis on Sydney gay life via oral history interviews.

Shirleene Robinson: I am deploying oral history in two new ARC projects that commenced in 2016. The first (with Robert Reynolds and Paul Sendziuk from the University of Adelaide) investigate the way individuals engaged with voluntary activity during the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in Australia and the impact of this both on individuals and communities.The second project (with Noah Riseman and Graham Willett) investigates LGBTI involvement in the Australian military since 1945. From 2012-2015, I was a Chief Investigator on the ARC Linkage Project, "Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories" (with Robert Reynolds, Rebecca Jennings from Macquarie University and Graham Willett UniM, Clive Moore UQ and the National Library of Australia). This project investigated the way lesbian and gay individuals negotiated social change in their intimate lives in Australia's past.  I am also interested in the ways community groups utilise oral history and am the current 2015-2016 President of the Sydney Pride History Group.

History of Ideas in Everyday Life

Historians in this cluster investigate how ideas have worked in everyday life, from the public sphere to popular culture. We trace not only how ideas circulated in these realms but also how everyday practices altered and even constituted them. Our localised histories of 'big' ideas challenge understandings of their origins, trajectories, and effects. Modern History staff in this research concentration include:

Kate Fullagar: In collaboration with Michael A. McDonnell at the University of Sydney, I am working on a comparative indigenous history of empire, 1760-1820; I am also working singly on a collective biography of the Briton Joshua Reynolds, the Cherokee Ostenaco, and the Polynesian Mai, which investigates little-known understandings of empire and self in the 18th century.

Leigh Boucher: I am currently investigating how politicians in 19th-century Victoria constituted and enacted liberal ideas about citizenship and sovereignty; in particular, I am interested in how changing ideas about race became organizing principles for settler colonial governance.

Mark Hearn: I am researching how ideas and experience shaped identity in fin de si├Ęcle Australia, focusing on both prominent public figures and less familiar individuals. I am currently exploring the intersection of ideas and experience in the life of Alfred Deakin in 1907, and how trade unionists in the Transport Workers Union responded to workplace reform and economic change, and how they constituted their self-governance, c1986-1996.

Michelle Arrow: I am currently researching the Royal Commission on Human Relationships, a Whitlam-era initiative in mid-1970s Australia. I have also worked on the ways that second-wave feminism was understood through popular culture, and have published widely on the ways that Australian television documentary represents the nation's past.

Alison Holland: I am in the final stages of a monograph on Mary Bennett, leading 20th-century Aboriginal rights advocate; it traces the genesis of her ideas around Aboriginal human rights against the broader canvas of humanitarian intervention across the 20th century. It focuses on the everyday conception of Aboriginal rights in public and private discourses and activism, as well as the intersection between these and broader political discourses and governance.

Nicholas Scott Baker: I am currently working on understandings about the power of fortune or chance in human lives in Renaissance Italy and ways these beliefs influenced and were influenced by everyday behaviour across a wide range of experiences: political, commercial, social, and intellectual. I continue to work intermittently on the political culture of Florence during the sixteenth century also.

Hsu-Ming Teo: I am currently working with a group of international scholars to examine how discourses of Orientalism in 18th-century popular culture were used for purposes of gender and political reform. I am also beginning a new project on the extent to which Orientalism and imperialism shaped understandings of the Middle East in the Australian imagination. I'm finishing a project which looks at the relationship between British imperialism and the romance novel.

Matthew Bailey: I am currently writing a history of shopping centre development in Australia, exploring the ways that urban planning, business models, retail changes and technological developments intersected with the lives and experiences of ordinary Australians and reshaped the urban form of Australian cities. I also work on cultural representations of malls and the ways that space and place are configured in popular imaginings.

Public and Popular History

Historians in this cluster investigate the ways that history is understood in public life and popular culture, including analyses of historical fiction, film and television and the work of community groups. These historians produce original analyses of these forms of history, but they also work in partnership with community groups and media organizations to create history in a variety of forms and to communicate history to diverse audiences. Historians in this cluster include:

Research projects

Michelle Arrow: I am currently researching the history of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships, an initiative of the Whitlam government, and I produced an original radio feature from this research for the ABC RN social history program Hindsight, broadcast in April 2013. In 2005 I was a presenter on the ABC TV history program Rewind, sparking a research interest in the ways that television presents history. I have written numerous publications on the ways Australian history has been depicted on television for both Australian and international journals. I was an historical consultant on Raising the Curtain, a 2012 documentary series on the history of Australian theatre, drawing on research I did for my PhD thesis on the history of Australian women playwrights 1928-1968.

Matthew Bailey: Drawing on my work on consumer history and popular understandings of place in urban and retail environments, I publish on people's usage and experiences of shopping centres, as well as on cultural representations of malls in popular culture, such as in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. I also facilitate public discourse about history through events: I organised 'From the Ground Up': People and Place in Sydney's Past held at the SLNSW in 2012, and The Talk About Town: Urban Lives and Oral Sources in 20th Century Australia, at the SLVIC in 2009. I am currently developing a touring art exhibition, Suburbiart, which explores artistic representations of Australian suburbs, demonstrating the ways that artists have both articulated and undercut dominant narratives of suburban life in Australia.

David Christian: I co-founded the Big History Project, which is developing a free on-line high-school syllabus on big history, designed to re-orientate thinking about history by linking human history with other disciplines that study the past, from cosmology to beology and biology. A number of Australian schools are already trialling the syllabus, whose final version will be released in August 2013 (bighistoryproject.com). I have also co-authored a college level textbook on Big History that will be published in August 2013 by McGraw-Hill. In October 2013, the History Channel will release 16 programs of 'Little Big Histories', based on the big history project.

Tanya Evans: My last book was a history of Australia's oldest charity, The Benevolent Society (established in 1813). This was written in partnership with the organisation and used the biographies of former clients of The Benevolent Asylum collected by family historians. Some of this research was used in the making of an ABC RN Hindsight program on the history of The Benevolent Society. I research the emotions of family history and the contributions of family historians to public history projects. I have worked as an historical consultant for a range of organisations including NGOs, charities and numerous television production companies in Britain and Australia including Grenada, Ricochet, Black Diamond, Joined Up Television and the BBC all producing programmes on the history of the family. I worked as a consultant for Artemis on the Australian series of Who Do You Think You Are? for several years. I curated an exhibition on the history of lone mothers for The Women's Library in London. I am also about to publish an edited book on the history of my local swim club.

Mark Hearn: Transport Workers Union (NSW Branch) 125th anniversary history project. I am also a regular opinion columnist for The Canberra Times focusing on an historical analysis of contemporary issues, particularly Australia's political and economic transformations since the 1970s.

Rebecca Jennings: I am working on a collaborative ARC Linkage Project, "Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories" (with Robert Reynolds, Shirleene Robinson from Macquarie University and Graham Willett UniM, Clive Moore UQ and the National Library of Australia). This project uses oral history to investigate the way lesbian and gay individuals have negotiated intimate social change in Australia's past. I am also using oral history to trace changing models of lesbian intimacy (relationships and parenting) in Australia since 1945. I work closely with community groups such as Sydney's Pride History Group to research and encourage interest in lesbian and gay history and was involved in an ABC Radio National Hindsight program on Sydney lesbian, Sandra Willson.

Shirleene Robinson: I am working on a collaborative ARC Linkage Project, "Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories" (with Robert Reynolds, Rebecca Jennings from Macquarie University and Graham Willett UniM, Clive Moore UQ and the National Library of Australia). This project uses oral history to investigate the way lesbian and gay individuals have negotiated intimate social change in Australia's past. I am also using oral history to investigate the way individuals engaged with voluntary activity during the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in Australia and the impact of this both on individuals and communities. I have worked on museum exhibitions with the Museum of Brisbane and co-convened "Queensland's Fifty Firsts", the major Sesqui-Centenary historical exhibition that toured throughout the state of Queensland in 2010. I have also worked on outreachactivities in the field of digital history and oral history with the State Library ofQueensland and have provided consultancy for organisations such as the Queensland Department of Communities, Queensland State Archives and Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.

Hsu-Ming Teo: My publications in this area include Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels (2012) and Cultural History in Australia (2003), and I have published works on historical romance novels and revisionist historiography, and nationalist historiography in Chinese martial arts films. I collaborated in the American-based Popular Romance Project, producing blogs for the website and a video interview with documentary maker Laurie Kahn. I am currently completing an edited book and special journal issue on the popular culture of romantic love in Australia. I'm also interested in the relationship between fiction, history and historiography. I am currently developing a research project on history and historiography in relation to the third novel that I am writing.

Histories of Gender and Sexuality

Historians in this cluster explore the ways gender and sexuality have impacted on individual and collective experiences and the ways that individuals, groups and societies have understood, negotiated and challenged these concepts. Research in this field locates gender and sexuality as forces of historical change. Researchers are interested in the emergence and transformation of gender identities and gender movements, sexual subcultures and intimate life, as well as the way societies respond to these challenges and changes. 

Historians in this cluster investigate:

Michelle Arrow: I am currently researching the Royal Commission on Human Relationships, a Whitlam-era initiative in mid-1970s Australia. I have also written on the ways that second-wave feminism was understood through popular culture, the history of Australian women playwrights in the mid-twentieth century, and the cultural meanings of the Lindy Chamberlain case.

Nicholas Baker: I am currently working on understandings about the power of fortune or chance in human lives in Renaissance Italy and ways these beliefs influenced and were influenced by everyday behaviour across a wide range of experiences: political, commercial, social, and intellectual. One part of the project examines the way Italians understood and imagined fortune (Fortuna) and its interaction with human ability in gendered terms.

Tanya Evans: My last book revealed the gendered experience of poverty in nineteenth-century NSW. For 20 years my research has been focused on the circumstances of lone mother's lives, the ways in which poor women accessed social welfare and how charities, the community and the state responded to their needs. Fractured Families revealed the inter-generational experience of poverty and its impact on the present. My recent work has been concerned with the gendered practice of family history and the relationship between family history and feminism. Later this year I will publish an edited book on the history of my local swim club with a chapter on female swimming champions in 20th century Australia. My next project will explore the gendered practice and meanings of family history in Australia, Canada and England and its impact on historical consciousness.

Alison Holland: I am completing a biography of Mary Bennett, leading twentieth century Aboriginal rights activist who campaigned against the 'slavery' (sexual and otherwise) of Aboriginal women in interwar Australia; I am also interested in themes related to women, power, politics and governance.

Rebecca Jennings: In collaboration with Robert Reynolds, Shirleene Robinson, Graham Willett, Clive Moore and the National Library of Australia, I worked an ARC Linkage project, 'Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories', collecting and analysing 60 life history interviews with Australian lesbians and gay men. I am conducting archival research and 50 life history interviews with lesbians across Australia in order to analyse lesbian practices of intimacy since 1945 and I am working on a biography of Sydney lesbian, Sandra Willson.

Clare Monagle is a historian of medieval thought, with a particular interest the gendering of theology. Clare's current research project is titled 'Sexing Scholasticism'. This project takes as its focus Christian theology taught in the Universities of Northern Europe between roughly 1150-1500, and reads it as a gendered project. Scholastic theologians were all men, as the hurdle requirement for training in theology in this period was the taking of holy orders, that is, becoming a cleric, and only men were allowed to do this. These theologians were responsible for the definition of core orthodoxy during this period, and their ideas were used to inform 'correct' practice in institutions such as the law, the inquisition, as well as in the administration of sacraments. Gender is rarely discussed by theologians, they are not particularly interested in the implications of sexed embodiment in the world. Yet, their ostensibly gender neutral ideas, I argue, are in fact premised upon normative Christian hierarchies between body and soul, matter and form, flesh and spirit, that necessarily derogate the feminine. In my work I attempt to reveal this unsaid at the heart of the scholastic project.

Robert Reynolds: I am working on a collaborative ARC Linkage Project, "Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories" (with Shirleene Robinson, Rebecca Jennings from Macquarie University and Graham Willett UniM, Clive Moore UQ and the National Library of Australia); I am investigating the emotional impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis on Sydney gay life and the way individuals engaged with voluntary activity during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Australia via oral history interviews.

Shirleene Robinson: From 2012-2015, I was a Chief Investigator on the ARC Linkage Project, "Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories" (with Robert Reynolds, Rebecca Jennings from Macquarie University and Graham Willett UniM, Clive Moore UQ and the National Library of Australia). This project investigated the way lesbian and gay individuals negotiated social change in their intimate lives in Australia's past. In 2016, I will commence work on two new ARC Discovery Projects. The first (with Robert Reynolds and Paul Sendziuk from the University of Adelaide) investigate the way individuals engaged with voluntary activity during the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in Australia and the impact of this both on individuals and communities.The second project (with Noah Riseman and Graham Willett) investigates LGBTI involvement in the Australian military since 1945.  I am also the current 2015-2016 President of the Sydney Pride History Group.

Hsu-Ming Teo: I am co-editing a Research Companion to Popular Romance Fiction (Routledge) with Prof. Eric Selinger (DePaul, Chicago) and Dr Jayashree Kamble (CUNY). I am completing an edited book and special journal issue (Journal of Popular Romance Studies) on the popular culture of romantic love in Australia. This project comes out of a 2002 Australia Research Council Discovery Project on the same topic. I'm also working on the politics of sexuality in historical romance novels, and in Asian literary erotica. These projects are a spin-off from the research conducted for my book Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels (2012).

Robert Reynolds, Michelle Arrow, Leigh Boucher (with Barbara Baird, Flinders University): "Personal, Private, Political: Sexual Citizenship and the State in Late Modern Australia, 1969-2012". This project investigates the relationship between sexual identity, citizenship and the state in late modern Australia. We are interested in how the claims made by the sexual and feminist revolutions transformed the vocabularies through which Australians have made claims upon the state and the ways in which late modern forms of liberal governance have been enacted in the sphere of sexual politics. Through a series of case studies in which sexual citizenship has been claimed and/or organised in Australia since the 1970s, the project will trace a new history of late modern liberal democracy.

Nationalism, Supranationalism and the State

This research cluster examines the phenomena of nationalism, supranationalism, and the state, and interactions between them. Members include Sasa Pavkovic, Steve Wood, Geoffrey Hawker, Lloyd Cox, Conor Keane and Glenn Diesen. Since its formation in March 2014, the cluster has produced 3 books, 11 academic journal articles, 6 book chapters, 2 encyclopaedia entries, and five PhD completions. Several other scholarly works are under review or nearing completion. Members of the cluster have also presented at conferences, organized discussion fora, and engaged with national and international media.

Regional and national specializations include Russia and the former Soviet Space, the former Yugoslavia, the European Union, Germany, Turkey, the United States, and Africa. Themes and issues explored include international security, secession, image and prestige, revenge as political motivation, nationalism and emotion, anthems, democratization, and regional conflict.

In Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as in the UK and Spain, discourses emphasizing national and sub-national identities and interests came to dominate public spaces and new conflicts have erupted.  The project of a supranational European polity embedded in the EU has come under increasing strain. Many challenges also confront the project of democracy in Africa. The adjoining states of Zimbabwe and South Africa were the last in Africa to come to majority rule and independence, and each has been governed by a hegemonic party since those transitions.  New political parties and social formations now challenge the hegemons. African nations are different in their history and capacity but their fortunes are also linked through ideology, economics and dependency on international capital.

Politics and Religion

This research cluster caters for staff and HDR students from Politics and International Relations and other departments interested in the intersections of politics, religion, secularism and related themes. Through fortnightly reading groups and occasional longer workshops and seminars, cluster members discuss emerging work from a range of disciplines that relate to the theme of politics and religion and share methodological approaches.

Recent international guests hosted by the cluster have included Professors Michael Minkenberg (Berlin) and Manon Tremblay (Ottawa), both now engaged in collaborative work with Macquarie cluster members. Cluster member Sean Durbin was recently awarded the annual PhD thesis prize by the Australian Political Studies Association for his work on Christian Zionism. Cluster leaders Marion Maddox and Ian Tregenza both hold ARC grants.

Global, Regional and Transnational Governance

Members of this research cluster work on a variety of topics related to the theme of transnational, regional and global governance.

Current projects include regionalism and sub-regionalism, governance of energy innovation, issues in international political economy and postcolonial theory, nuclear proliferation and South Asian security, militarism and gender representations, and culture and politics in the Middle East.

A joint workshop between the Global and Transnational Governance and the Politics and Religion clusters on the topic of Conservative Religion and Neoliberalism, supported by a Faculty grant, is planned for 2015. Cluster leader Stephanie Lawson holds an ARC grant on regional politics in the Southwest Pacific.

Centre for Middle East and North African Studies

The Centre for Middle East & North African Studies at Macquarie University was established in 1993 to improve Australian understanding of the Middle East and North Africa. It builds upon Macquarie University's international reputation in the field of Middle Eastern Studies.

Publications

Recent staff publications 

  • Aleksandar Pavkovic (2016) Identity and Nationalism in the Balkans: Anthems and the Making of Nation States in Southeast Europe. A. Pavkovic and Christopher Kelen. London, I.B. Tauris
  • Jonathan Symons (forthcoming, 2016) Altman, Dennis & Jonathan Symons, Queer Wars: The New Global Polarization over Gay Rights, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Jumana Bayeh 2015 The Literature of the Lebanese Diaspora: Representations of Place and Transnational Identity (London: I.B. Tauris)
  • Tanya Evans, Fractured Families: Life On The Margins in Colonial New South Wales  (University of New South Wales Press Ltd, 2015)
  • Ashley Lavelle (2015) Radical Challenges to the Family: From the Sixties to Same-Sex Marriage, Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Morris Morley (2015) Reagan and Pinochet: The Struggle over US policy towards Chile. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Marion Maddox (2014) Taking God to School: The End of Australia's Egalitarian Education? Sydney: Allen & Unwin
  • Clare Monagle, Orthodoxy and Controversy in Twelfth-Century Religious Discourse: Peter Lombard's 'Sentences' and the Development of Theology, 1050-1215 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013)
  • Nicholas Scott Baker, The Fruit of Liberty: Political Culture in the Florentine Renaissance, 1480-1550 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013)
  • Noah Bassil, N.R. (2013) The Crisis of the Post-Colonial Sudanese State: Origins of the Conflict in Darfur, London: I.B. Tauris and Co
  • Ashley Lavelle (2013) The Politics of Betrayal: Renegades and Ex-Radicals from Mussolini to Christopher Hitchens, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Stephanie Lawson (2013) Introduction to Politics, Canadian edn, Oxford, Oxford University Press  (co-authored with John Garner, Peter Ferdinand and David. B.MacDonald).
  • Tanya Evans, with Pat Thane, Sinners, Scroungers, Saints: Unmarried Motherhood in Modern England (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Brawley SS; Dixon C, 2012, Hollywood's South Seas and the Pacific War: Searching for Dorothy Lamour, First, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012
  • Kate Fullagar, The Savage Visit: New World People and Popular Imperial Culture in Britain, 1710-1795 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012)
  • Kate Fullagar, The Atlantic World in the Antipodes: Effects and Transformations since the Eighteenth Century (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012) 
  • Hsu-Ming Teo, Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels (Austin: University of Texas Press, November 2012)
  • Jonathan Symons (2012) Anceschi, Luca  and Jonathan Symons (eds), Energy Security in the Era of Climate Change: The Asia-Pacific Experience, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
  • David Christian, Big History a set of 48 lectures for the Teaching Company, 2008.
  • Hsu-Ming Teo, Behind the Moon (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2005; New York: Soho Press 2007).
  • David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History. Foreword by W.H. McNeill, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
  • Hsu-Ming Teo, Cultural History in Australia, ed. Hsu-Ming Teo and Richard White, (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2003)
  • Hsu-Ming Teo, Love and Vertigo (Sydney: Allen & Unwin 2000).
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