Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Re-launching the History of Australian and New Zealand Thought

Back in 2007 Rafe Champion and I started the History of Australian and New Zealand Thought as a blog because we thought that this was an important topic not properly covered by other blogs. Since then, the blog has struggled because we are just so busy.

I first really became interested in the history of thought back when I was a PhD student at the University of New England. Much history is involved with things like activities, events, trends, what happened and why. My research involved me in trying to understand what people thought.

While I was in Armidale, Professor Eugene Kamenka (1928–1994) came to deliver a seminar. Professor Kamenka was then Professor and the Head of the History of Ideas Unit at the Institute of Advanced Studies of the Australian National University.

Some of his ideas were too far outside the interests of his audience, but I found him fascinating and got heavily involved in discussion. One consequence was that I got invited to lunch and so had the opportunity to continue the dialogue.

Back in 2007 I started a series of posts on the History of Australian and New Zealand Thought blog on the history of New England thought. The series lagged, but I hadn’t forgotten it.

Why New England thought?

Well, there is a fair bit of material around on the history of Australian thought, but little below the national level. That material that is there is very metro focused.

In saying this, I am not saying that the material is not interesting. I am very interested, for example, in the differences between Sydney and Melbourne thought. The two cities are remarkably different, differences that go back to differing history and social structures. Yet those cities and the way they thought are not the only or even the dominant threads in Australian thought.

I have done a fair bit of work since I started the New England thought series in 2007. Some of my ideas have changed. More importantly, I now have just so much more evidence.

Given my new material, I do want to return to the New England thought topic. But do I do it here or on the History of Australian and New Zealand Thought blog?

After thinking about it, I have decided to split the material. I am going to place the very specific material here, with some of the broader material going to the other blog. However, this raises a broader question.

I know that some of my history colleagues do read this blog. Would you be interested in helping Rafe and I re-launch the History of Australian and New Zealand Thought?

You don’t need to be a professional historian. After all, I am not, nor is Rafe. You just need to be as fascinated as us in the way Australians and New Zealanders think.

To really make a go of the blog, we need up to five contributors. That way we can get a constant stream of posts without creating too much individual strain. That way, too, we can get the interaction between authors that really aids the creation of a viable blog.

What do you think? Any volunteers?

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