Discovery projects

Slavery in British Guiana in the Age of Abolition, 1804-1834

Professor Trevor Burnard

British Guiana became the most important slave colony in the British Empire following the abolition of the slave trade. Its history and the experience of the slaves who made up the majority of its population is the focus of this project, designed so that rich archival sources will be used to enable slaves to speak directly about their experience. This project is expected to illuminate the character of slavery and slave resistance in an especially profitable but harsh slave society in a late period of slavery. It is intended to explore the alternative kinds of colonisation that were possible in the early nineteenth-century British Empire, to deepen our understanding of slave management in plantation societies and to contribute to the historical analysis of race and slavery.

ARC Australian Professorial Fellowship and Discovery grant: An international history of Australian democracy: the impact of Australian innovation overseas and of international human rights in Australia (2011-2016)

Professor Marilyn Lake

This project will chart the international career of Australian democracy and the impact of innovations such as manhood suffrage, the Australian ballot, women's rights and industrial arbitration overseas. It will also investigate the impact of new international definitions of human rights on re-shaping Australian democracy after World War Two.

Sounds of War (2013-2016)

Professor Joy Damousi

Hell Sounds will explore how the experience of war is mediated by sound. Drawing on diaries, memoirs and contemporary accounts, this project will for the first time explore how war sounds of the battlefield and the homefront during the First and Second World War have shaped the experience and memory of these events by civilians and combatants. Through a history of the technology of modern warfare during the twentieth century such as bombings, shelling, explosives and air sirens, this project will re-conceptualise the history of the two world wars through the auditory landscape created by inflicting violence on the senses.

ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions

For more information please see the Centre for the History of Emotions website.

Intersections of Religion, Emotion, Visual Culture and Print in Early Modern Europe (2011-2018)

Professor Charles Zika

This seven-year project concentrates on German-speaking Europe from the 15th to early 18th century and includes the following:

  1. Emotions, Community and Sacred Space - focusing on the role of emotions in shaping pilgrimage rituals and communal identity at the Austrian shrine of Mariazell, in its transformation into an instrument of Hapsburg religious ideology
  2. Emotions and Exclusion in Witchcraft Imagery - tracing reversals in witchcraft belief from demonization to derisive fantasy during the 17th and 18th centuries
  3. Natural Disasters and Apocalyptic Anxiety - exploring religious response through the prism of pamphlets and broadsheets collected by the Zurich pastor Johann Jakob Wick, 1560-1588
  4. Emotions and the Visual in the Transformations of Early Modern Europe - which investigates the emotional power, resonance and function of religious objects and images, linked to an exhibition to be held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2017

Feeling the Sacred: Emotions and Material Culture in Medieval Chartres

Dr Sarah Randles, Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the ARC Centre for the History of Emotions at The University of Melbourne

Sarah Randles is conducting a research project on emotions, materiality and sacred place, focusing on the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres, a significant centre for medieval pilgrimage and an outstanding example of and gothic architecture and art. The project will investigate the emotional responses of worshippers to the built environment and visual programs of the Cathedral, to the relics and other holy material housed there and taken from the site, and to the material and performative aspects of the religious practices at this site.

Digging out some emotional roots of British anti-Catholicism: A study of the English representations of the seventeenth-century massacres of Piedmontese Waldensians

Dr Giovanni Tarantino, Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the ARC Centre for the History of Emotions at The University of Melbourne

Giovanni is working on a project concerned with the affective language used in English-language reports of the persecution of the Waldensians in the later seventeenth century (with Waldensianism being considered the only 'heresy' of the twelfth century to survive in unbroken continuity into the sixteenth century to link hands with the Protestant Reformation) and how the rhetoric within these reports helped shape notions of British Protestant identity and community. He is also exploring the methodological legitimacy of reading (Waldensian) geographic maps not merely in technical or geopolitical terms, but in a way that he believes can justifiably be defined as 'affective geography'.

Disasters, Emotions, and the development of Scottish National Identity, 1490-1700 (working title)

Dr Gordon David Raeburn, Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the ARC Centre for the History of Emotions at The University of Melbourne

Gordon is investigating the emotional responses to a series of Scottish disasters between 1490 and 1700, including massacres, plagues, and economic disasters, in order to determine the extent to which these emotions show a shift over time from localised identity, such as clan based or geographically based, towards a more national sense of identity. This project will also investigate the effects of major societal changes, such as the Reformation, upon the emotion responses to these events, as well as any differing emotional responses due to cultural or geographical influences. Gordon is also a member of the AHRC Research Network 'Crossing Over - New Narratives of Death', based at the University of Hull.

ARC Future fellowships

Dancing to Whose Tune? Indonesian Transnational Political Activism in the Shadow of the Cold War (1949-1966) (2013-2017)

Dr Kate McGregor

Since the 1990s there has been a boom in memory and in human rights activism relating to historical injustice in Indonesia. Using an innovative framework of the concept of 'regions of memory' this project examines how human rights activists located within and outside Indonesia use memory for the purposes of achieving human rights outcomes. Through national and international collaborations this project will analyse why transnational activism concerning crimes from the Japanese occupation (1942-45), the independence struggle (1945-1949) and the 1965 mass violence escalated at particular points in time and deepen our understanding of the relationship between memory and human rights.

McKenzie postdoctoral fellowships

Remembering Houses of Cloth: Workers' Histories of Textile Production in Bengal, 1590-2015 (2014-2016)

Dr Samia Khatun, McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow

This project offers a timely opportunity to produce a historical resource base about textile workers in Bengal that will inform and strengthen contemporary labour rights campaigns in the garments industry, addressing some of the most pressing social equity issues in the Asian region. Presenting a history of globalisation from the perspective of the textile worker, the analytical aim is to tackle a question of central importance to the discipline of history: How are articulations of the past actively used to fashion imagined futures? The twin objectives are to firstly piece together an episodic workers' history of textile production in Bengal from the sixteenth century to the present day, and secondly to generate insights into how workers across different epochs have actively employed narratives about the past in their struggles for the future. This project will produce outcomes 'Remembering Houses of Cloth' that explore the contested politics of memory and contribute significantly to the global visibility of textile workers.

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA)

Memory and Authoritarianism: The Struggle for the Past in Putin's Russia (2015-2017)

Dr Julie Fedor

Over the past decade, the Russian state has reasserted a role in shaping how the past is narrated and represented, both within Russia and beyond. This project critically examines this phenomenon, drawing on close readings of sources including history textbooks, monuments and mass media. The project aims to enhance understanding of how narratives about the past are being mobilised in contemporary dynamics between the Russian state and Russian civil society.

Creating the Atlantic World: transnational relationships and family ties in trading networks and voyages of discovery, 1480-1580(2014-2016)

Dr Heather Dalton

This project will investigate the part played by transnational family-based trade networks in laying the foundations of the Atlantic World. It will focus on merchants from the British Isles who cooperated with merchants from the Italian and Iberian Peninsulas in the South Atlantic from 1480 to 1580. This project will examine these merchants' trading reach and the extent to which their relationships transcended national ties and traditional boundaries relating to gender, class and religion, and it will place families and hybrid networks at the heart of this neglected area of global history. It will demonstrate their influence on locations in Europe and across the Atlantic, and on emerging ideas of trade, 'discovery', settlement, colonisation and race in Britain.

International research grants

Luxury and the Manipulation of Desire: Historical Perspectives for Contemporary Debates

Network partners: Dr Catherine Kovesi with Professor Giorgio Riello - Network Co-director, University of Warwick; Dr Rosa Salzberg - Network Co-director, University of Warwick; Mr Glenn Adamson, Museum of Art & Design, New York; Dr Marta Ajmar, Victoria & Albert Museum; Professor Peter McNeil, University of Stockholm and UTS Sydney; Professor Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli, University of Bologna.

Funded by the Leverhulme Trust

Luxury is no longer seen as the pastime of a small wealthy elite. Today's luxury industry is one of Europe's most dynamic sectors; consumers are allured by luxury brands and services; and nation states heavily tax luxuries. Yet, luxury is not just a product and outcome of the twentieth century. There is a long, complex and well documented role for luxury within history. The business, marketing and creative sectors are also keen to consider 'luxury' within its historical framing, allowing for a better understanding of the genesis, evolution and transformation of this material and psychological phenomenon.The Leverhulme International Network "Luxury & the Manipulation of Desire" aims to connect the long history of luxury with the importance that luxury has assumed in contemporary society. It does so by fostering dialogue between academics and curators based in partner institutions as well as experts, journalists and business people working in the luxury sector internationally.

History past research projects