Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr Mary Tomsic publishes Beyond the Silver Screen. A history of women, filmmaking and film culture in Australia 1920-1990.
Beyond the Silver Screen tells the history of women's engagement with filmmaking and film culture in twentieth-century Australia. In doing so, it explores an array of often hidden ways women in Australia have creatively worked with film. Beyond the Silver Screen examines film in a broad sense, considering feature filmmaking alongside government documentaries and political films. It also focusses on women's work regulating films and supporting film culture through organising film societies and workshops to encourage female filmmakers. As such, it tells a new narrative of Australian film history.
Beyond the Silver Screen reveals the variety of roles film has in Australian society. It presents film as a medium of creative and political expression, which women have engaged with in diverse ways throughout the twentieth century. Gender roles and gendered ideologies operating within society at large have influenced women's opportunities to work with film and how their filmwork is recognised. Beyond the Silver Screen shows women's sustained involvement with film is best understood as political and cultural action.
Hear Mary speak with Fran Kelly on the ABC's RN breakfast program about women and film in Australia here.
Copies of Beyond the Silver Screen can be purchased through the Melbourne University Publishing website.
Rachel Stevens awarded National Library of Australia Fellowship for 2018
Research assistant Dr Rachel Stevens has received a prestigious National Library Fellowship, which she will take up in the spring of 2018. This three month fellowship - funded by the past and present members of the National Library Council - allows researchers to make intensive and sustained use of the Library's rich archival collections. Rachel will use the fellowship to continue her research on Australian humanitarian and political efforts to support refugees during the Bangladeshi Liberation War of 1971.
Project title: Refugees, Relief and Revolution: Australians in the Bangladesh Liberation War.
The Bangladesh Liberation War against West Pakistan in 1971 triggered a mass exodus of 10 million refugees, the deaths of approximately 1.5 million and widespread destruction of villages and crops. Preoccupied with the Cold War and domestic politics, powerful nations such as the US and UK did not intervene or offer substantial aid, at least initially. Many Australian individuals and relief organisations, however, engaged with this conflict and promptly delivered financial and material aid to Bangladesh, and effectively pressured the Australian Government to follow suit. Australian left-wing activists and academics vocally supported Bangladeshis’ struggle for independence from what they perceived as the colonial rule of West Pakistan.
This project will explore how and why Australians provided relief to these predominantly Muslim refugees, including some Maoists. It will also examine why particular Australians advocated for revolution and decolonisation in Bangladesh, especially at a time when Cold War considerations dominated international politics.
Using extensive manuscript, sound and newspaper materials held at the National Library, including unique and under-utilised items, this research will offer new insights into Australian refugee history, its engagement with Asia and prominent role in international crises.
Greg Dening Memorial Lecture 2017
Professor Joy Damousi presents: 'Out of common humanity'. Humanitarianism, compassion and efforts in Australia to assist Jewish refugees in the 1930s.
Monday 9 October
This event has passed. The twitter feed can be viewed here.
In June 1935, Edith Roll, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl from Vienna, wrote to her Australian pen-pal Jean Doig, aged 10 from Colac, Victoria. The correspondence was short-lived as Edith and her family were swept up in the violence of the Holocaust. Though Jean’s parents, Keith and Louise Doig, helped the Roll family apply to migrate to Australia, these efforts tragically failed.
Why should the attempt of one family in an Australian country town to assist another in Europe be considered of broader relevance to the monumental events of the mid-twentieth century?
Unsuccessful efforts to evacuate refugees are cursorily dismissed. A different focus, however, would direct our attention to the motivations of people to act who were not otherwise politically engaged. We miss an opportunity to return to the past—as Greg Dening put it—its own present. From this perspective, the Doig family efforts are part of the complex story of Australian migration history. If we choose not to tell these stories, we cannot fully chart how a history of compassion, and more broadly, humanitarianism can be written.
Public lectures (audio files)
22 August 2017
Visiting fellow Dr Benjamin Thomas White from the University of Glasgow (UK) presents a 90 minute public seminar on the history of humanitarian evacuations. Listen on Echo360.
8 October 2016
Professor Peter Gatrell from the University of Manchester (UK) presents a one hour lecture on the making of the modern refugee. Listen on Echo360.
24 March 2015
Professor Joy Damousi presents, 'Child Refugees and Australian Internationalism: Past, Present, Future' as part of the Australia in the World Lecture & Seminar Series. Listen on SoundCloud.
Global Histories of Refugees in the 20th and 21st Centuries Conference
The University of Melbourne
Thursday 6 October - Saturday 8 October 2016
Publications from this conference to follow.