Monthly Archives: September, 2006

HTAA Conference seminars – day 3

Seminar 1
Thinking about Alexander

–Quintus Curtius Rufus – in Penguin as The History of Alexander: lots of speeches; Roman bias against king.
–Plutarch – parallel with Julius Caesar; character more than politics
–Arrian – in Penguin as The Campaigns of Alexander; very pro-Alex.
**These are all 400+ years after his death, so they’re really secondary sources.
–Also: Lysippos: the offical court sculpture of Alex.

–was a monomaniac
–was a drunkard (almost certainly)
–had a troubled childhood
–was alf-Illyrian, because of Olympias, so possibly not the best choice for king (which was elective, within the royal house)
–inherits the kingship, being hegemon (overlord of Greece, as in representative), and a huge debt to Greek moneylenders. Add in his monomania, and here are three excellent reasons for invading Persia….

My take: I love Alexander. I love the stories that have grown up around him, and the very romance of taking that many men that far. I’m not necessarily that enamored of the man himself, but that hardly matters.

HTAA Conference Keynote – day 3

John Fitzgerald: “What did Napoleon say about China? Recent trends in studies of Chinese history.

*Napoleon apparently said: “Behold the Chinese empire! Let this dragon sleep, for when it awakes the whole world will tremble.” (Or something along those lines, anyway).
** This quote has been used as the opening of two best-selling books.

*Almost no scholarship has been done on Chinese history before the 1950s – only on Americans in China, etc.

*John King Fairbank pushed the Western impact/Chinese reaction mode of Chinese history (1950s-70s), not looking at indigenous history; more on assimilation, or not.

*Paul Cohen pushed/identified trend Chinese-centred history (1980-90s). China did have pre/non-West history; also that “West” is itself problematic; Chinese-Western relations are two-way.

*Post-Cohen writings:
–China in regional and world economic history
–pre-modern Europe as similar to pre-modern China, more similar than modern China to modern Europe
–Ethnic histories of China
–History of Chinese overseas

–Morrison and Donald, both white men in China; both journos for major international papers, in late 19th-early 20th century. Morrison was also the secretary to Chiang Kai-Shek’s (sp??) wife. Both not all that well known, but they do have biographies and other remembrances.
–Who remembers the Chinese who made equal contributions to relations between China and Australia?
-William Ah Ket
-NSW Chinese Chamber of Commerce – second in establishment to the one in Hong Kong
-William Liu
-Australian department stores established in China; still there
-James See (Hsieh Tsan Tai), born Sydney. Founded first revoluntionary organisation in China! Joined with Sun Yat-sen’s group.

*Pattern of migration for China to Australia parallels Europeans to USA; about 40% returned after a while.
–“District club” – organised by people from the same regions, to organise social and often financial affairs.
–Australasian Kuomintang association was second largest outside China. They set up a Canton HQ, for Australian Chinese visiting.
–Empire Reform Association
–Chinese Masonic Association

*Turns out Napoleon did not say that about China (surprise, surprise). Probably did say something about Britain shouldn’t fight China because then China would learn its own strength, build a fleet and defeat Britain.

NB: immigration to Australia: Aust imposed a tax per head. As a direct result, women did not come because they were not commercially productive and couldn’t, therefore, repay the 10 pounds it cost to get them in.

My take: I know very, very little about Chinese history or the scholarship thereof. This guy was really interesting. It’s terrible, the little we know about the contributions of non-Europeans to Australian society.

HTAA Conference seminars – day 2

*Well Done, Those Men, be Barry Heard (sp?), a Vietnam Veteran

*Sovereign Hill, Ballarat – doing authentic learning there. Suggested topics on the Sovereign Hill website.

Seminar 1
Catering for all Learners

*Definitions: Giftedness – the potential; possession of natural ability
Talent – the use; achievement/performance beyond expectations.

*History is like… a ladder
… a compost heap
… a mirror

Teaching is one quarter good preparation;
three quarters pure theatre.

HTAA Conference Keynote – day 2

Michael Caulfield, “Capturing History”

*In telling a story – any story – you decide what to include, and therefore what to exclude.

*For a doco on the Chinese PLA, they stole videotape from China. Is this legit??

*Was the ?producer/director of Australians at War Film Archive, which interviewed men and women who had participated in all theatres of war in living memory (basically). This archive is not censored by the producers. Some stuff is on embargo, at the request of the interviewee – say until their death, or that of someone else; very few actually did this. Also, current ADF interviewees not available for 15 years. The website has photos of the interviewee at the time of war service and at time of interview, as well as some of their own photos.

My take: I heard this exact same lecture at the national conference the year before. However, seeing the footage hadn’t grown old – it’s still affective, powerful, and really interesting basically. I’d love to use this in the classroom, but I’m not sure I’ll ever have the chance.

HTAA Conference Keynote – day 1

Usual caveat applies: my notes, from the History Teachers’ Association of Australia last year.

Peter Read, on “Murder, Ignorance and Reconciliation in the Nothern Territory”

1932: 4 Japanese fishers killed by Aborigines, on a reserve. What were the Japanese doing there, when only police, missionaries and protectorate people were meant to go there?! Near Groote Eylandt.

1933: two policemen sent to arrest the Aborigines who did this. One of them was killed. Large party of police planned for retribution (to arrest the Aborigines responsible); all whites were claimed to be in danger.

NB: there were already concerns at this stage down south and even in London about frontier police, laws and judges being unjust.

*There was a huge backlash at the idea of this police party from many different protest groups. As a result, the police party is not sent.

*Missios sent to find out who killed the Japanese and Dhakiyarr, who was said to have killed McColl (the policeman), and convince them to go to Darwin. They arrive in 1934.

1934: Dhakiyarr and others are arrested. Two Aborigines claimed
to have Dhakiyarr’s confession, although they are conflicted – one said McColl was killed because he attempted to rape D’s wife, the other doesn’t mention it. Journos self-censor ad refuse to mention this bit; judge not happy at impugning of police reputation.

There’s a 3-day trial. Ends in death sentence, within 28 days. This is extended; lots of protests at it. Appeal to High Court by Chief Protector (eventually), with 24 reasons.

*D was eventually set free by the High Court, because no jury could now be found that was not biased. Was meant to be returned to his country.
*The day after this, D was put into the half-caste compound in Fannie Bay, part of Darwin… and then he disappeared. Was presumed to have gone bush. There are rumours today that he was killed by police, but there is NO mention in the archives of this idea.

2002: A letter from D’s grandsons was sent to the Chief Minister of the NT, revealing their sorrow at not having had a funeral ceremony. They then did have a ceremony – a funeral and a cleansing of those involved, including McColl’s family.

*They told the story they knew: D and family went to their island; police group landed there and chained up the women (who were possibly out foraging), made them take them to the men. D saw this, and he speared McColl – the leader.

* Why was D so worried about the consequences of the killing of the Japanese fishers? Because 21 years before this, in D’s mother’s country, police had killed several Aborigines because of the mistaken belief that they had killed a geologist.

**You need to see the big picture, to see the little picture.

My take: I really enjoyed this lecture. Despite having grown up in Darwin, I have never heard about Dhakiyarr before. Illuminating.

Mighty Hektor

New camera… nice fishy.

Friday night movies

Faced with the prospect of watching either Polyanna or Shrek, I opted out and went for Midsomer Murders instead. That being finished, I have turned over to Polyanna…. I liked the book when I was a kid. I have even seen the original movie, with whatshername in it, Hayley Mills. And this movie has indeed lived down to my expectations: sappy and very painful (the priest is the disgusting cousin from the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice). The actress playing Polyanna is really, really bad, with a very stupid lisp (which, having said that, I hope is fake). But… since I know the story… it’s still a little beguiling.

Historically speaking…

On 18 October 2005, I went to “Life Stories: Crafts of Writing History.” The reason I went was Anna Lanyon – she wrote two books I liked, Malinche and The New World of Martin Cortes.

Anna Lanyon
*Took ten years to write Malinche!
*Need to know, even love your subject.
*Takes more than one person to get a book out – editors, pubishers, etc.
*Experimenting with styles is important.
*Noel Coward: “Don’t let anything artistic get in your way.”
*Clarity is paramount
*Material itself can/should guide your writing.
*The sound of words, as well as the meaning, is important.
*Work like a physicist: look at the faint traces of a particle’s path, to infer the property/ies of the particle itself.
*Concentrating on the audience leads to different writing, from writing to win an argument or impressing acadaemia.

Donna Merwick (who wrote Death of a Notary)
*Writing as being a performance
*Performing for the mind of one’s time: for your contemporaries
*Readers have the right to:
**poach your text – use what they like, mean what they like
**read stories about the past that inform their future
**red books that correspond to other texts they are consuming

*You must be determined to get your story out
*”Consider the beauty of the simple declarative sentence.”


I’m a bit bad – got a package a week out from my birthday, and opened it…. It was from a friend who is expecting to hatch next week, which is no doubt why it came early. She has a thing with buttons, which is why I got this… lovely!

HTAV State Conference

These are my notes from the one day of the HTAV conference I attended last year, 10 November.

Hayden Keenan (film-maker) and Gary Foley (historian; works with Melb Uni Education bods), talking about Ningla-Ana, about the Tent Embassy

*Making the film: cameras had become smaller, more mobile, longer-lasting and quieter, which democratised film-making.

1938 – Day of Mourning (sesquicentenary of invasion/colonisation)
1965 – Charles Perkins Freedom Ride
1966 – Gurindji walk off station
1967 – referendum (passed by 9:1! Aborigines allowed to vote etc)
1969 – Black Power organised (inspired by Malcolm X and the Black Panthers; failure of referendum to really change anything. Dennis Walker, Paul Coe).
1971 – South African rugby tour
AND Black Moratorium demonstrations: basically anti-Apartheid types who were challenged to suuport Aborigines in their own country.

*Tent Embassy: four boys turned up to make a point about PM Billy McMahon’s declaration against land rights. Police said as long as there were only 11 tents, they could stay! Tourists came along… they set up a post box, and three days later mail arrived! VIPs also came along. International media attention started turning their way.
**McMahon changed the laws, making it illegal to camp on the lawns of Parliament House. Ten minutes later, the Aborigines moved off, some were arrested/injured. Two days later, 2000 Aborigines came to the ACT and re-erected the tents, protected by bodies. Some violence; 18 arrested (22 July).
**30 July, 3000 demonstrators set up the tents again. Kooris not resisting, just watching.
** Six months later, McMahon was out and Whitlam (Labor) was in (had visited the Tent).

***Ignorance leads to intolerance.
cf. Koori Web

Seminar 1
*Stories are valid ways of telling history, teaching, etc.Kids will learn when they are engaged!
*Selling textbook.

Seminar 2
VELS unpacked.
**Question dice
Matrices for assessment, especially against VELS
Deep learning is important
Viking interviews/build a village
Buy a Viking hat (ignore the anachronism)
Actively teach thinking skills, concepts, words – ‘classify’, not ‘put into groups’.

Seminar 3
Such a Life: Ned Kelly incursion, done by the Old Melbourne Gaol people. Done by just two actors, playing five roles between them.