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Transnational Ties

Transnational Ties: Australian Lives in the World

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Transnational Ties
    Book Description:

    Australian lives are intricately enmeshed with the world, bound by ties of allegiance and affinity, intellect and imagination. In Transnational Ties: Australian Lives in the World, an eclectic mix of scholars—historians, literary critics, and museologists—trace the flow of people that helped shape Australia's distinctive character and the flow of ideas that connected Australians to a global community of thought. It shows how biography, and the study of life stories, can contribute greatly to our understanding of such patterns of connection and explores how transnationalism can test biography's limits as an intellectual, professional and commercial practice.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-21-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxii)
    Desley Deacon, Penny Russell and Angela Woollacott

    Born in New York in the turbulent eighteenth century, African-American Billy Blue fought with the British against France and America, led a press gang in Deptford, lumped cargo on the Thames, was transported to Australia for pilfering and became a ferryman on Sydney Harbour. In Sydney, he flourished for some years as a man of property, on terms of friendship with Governor Macquarie. Cassandra Pybus speculates that this friendship, which helped secure Blueʹs stature in Sydney society, might have owed something to an earlier acquaintance when both men served in the same campaigns in America.

    Guna Kinne was at high...

  4. Archival fragments

    • Chapter 1 The Old Commodore: a transnational life
      (pp. 3-18)
      Cassandra Pybus

      ʹThe world is all of one piece,ʹ according to the narrator of All The Kings Men, the iconic novel by Robert Penn Warren that was the centrepiece of my doctoral thesis on memory, history and narrative. I reprise it here in order to flag my fascination for the interconnectedness of human experience and my desire to transcend the limitations of the national narrative. For the past decade, my historical inquiry has focused on the lives of expropriated Africans throughout the Anglo-colonial world during the long eighteenth century. My subjects are obscure, illiterate and largely forgotten historical actors, whose lives I...

  5. Authority

    • Chapter 2 Biography and global history: reflections on examining colonial governance through the life of Edward Eyre
      (pp. 21-40)
      Julie Evans

      Edward John Eyre (1815–1901) is in many ways the iconic Australian explorer. Against all odds, he walked across the vast Nullarbor Plain, battling the vagaries of the desert climate and the unforgiving landscape to ʹopen upʹ the country from Adelaide to Albany. Although he was born into a very different life in England, by his early twenties he had already made a name for himself as an overlander of sheep and cattle half a world away in the Antipodes, forging stock routes through the outback of the south-eastern colonies in the 1830s. Uncharacteristically for the times, he gained a...

    • Chapter 3 ʹA fine type of Hindooʹ meets ʹthe Australian typeʹ: British Indians in Australia and diverse masculinities
      (pp. 41-56)
      Margaret Allen

      In about 1881, a young Punjabi Sikh from a landowning family, Otim Singh, left his home in Moga in the Punjab and began a journey that would take him to Sumatra, where he would work for five years, supervising Indian workers on an English-owned tobacco plantation, and where he also served with the British Mounted Police. He returned home to the Punjab and purchased land, but shortly after went to Batavia (Jakarta) to visit his brother. Thence he made the journey to Australia, arriving in Melbourne in 1890.¹ He was to live in Australia for the rest of his life...

    • Chapter 4 A British prince and a transnational life: Alfred, Duke of Edinburghʹs visit to Australia, 1867–68
      (pp. 57-74)
      Cindy McCreery

      The voyages of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (1844–1900), offer a useful entrée to understanding transnational lives in nineteenth-century Britain and Australia. Alfred crossed borders and nationalities as a prince and serving officer in the Royal Navy. His visit to Australia in 1867–68, the first by a member of the British royal family, attracted considerable attention.¹ Examining official and private accounts of the visit enables us to consider the transnational dimensions of Alfred and his Australian hosts, as well as those of contemporary Britons and Australians in general. Indeed, employing a transnational perspective enriches our historical understanding of such...

    • Chapter 5 Enacting the international: R. G. Watt and the League of Nations Union
      (pp. 75-94)
      Nicholas Brown

      As Julie Evans, Margaret Allen and Cindy McCreery have argued in this section of Transnational Ties, concepts of empire provided powerful ways of mediating the ʹauthorityʹ of trans-colonial governance, images of gender and competing identities for Australians in the nineteenth century. Moving into the twentieth century, however, and with the accelerating pressures of mobility, communication and consumption—in short, of modernity—empire became a less exclusive way of experiencing the authority of Australiaʹs transnational ties. Akira Iriye has noted the extent to which an idea of international society came to define forms of conduct, activism, intervention and accountability early in...

  6. Intimacy

    • Chapter 6 Love, loss and ʹgoing Homeʹ: the intimate lives of Victorian settlers
      (pp. 97-114)
      Maggie Mackellar

      In May 1885, Arbella Winter Cooke received a letter from her son Sam, who was on an extensive honeymoon in Europe. He and his wife, Alice, were having a wonderful time and liking Florence ʹvery muchʹ but, Sam assured his mother, she need not fear that ʹit or any other place will charm us away from Victoriaʹ. With a flourish, he added, ʹWe are looking forward to our return Home.ʹ¹

      Samuel Winter Cooke (1847–1929) had been taught from early childhood that the great European cities on his tour were the centres of civilisation and culture. From the cosmopolitan city...

    • Chapter 7 A journey of love: Agnes Breuerʹs sojourn in 1930s China
      (pp. 115-134)
      Kate Bagnall

      In his 1933 book, White China: An Austral-Asian sensation, journalist John Sleeman discussed the story of a young Queensland woman that had appeared in Sydneyʹs World newspaper the previous year.¹ The sensational article claimed that after marrying a Chinese man in Townsville, the woman had gone with him to China where she was treated badly by her husband and his family. The World wrote that a fortnight after having a baby, the woman was ʹforced to work in the rice fields like a coolieʹ, that she lived ʹunder conditions that an Australian would scorn to allot to a diseased dogʹ...

    • Chapter 8 Life stories, family relations and the ʹlens of migrationʹ: postwar British emigration and the new mobility
      (pp. 135-148)
      A. James Hammerton

      This chapter offers some reflections on the changing ways in which Western—and more particularly British—emigrants have come to describe and reflect on their lives in the second half of the twentieth century. It arises from a current project on late twentieth-century British emigration to multiple locations, which explores ways in which the post-1960s period of heightened mobility and cheaper transport has brought about shifts in migrant identities while retaining some continuities with traditional modes of migration and migrantsʹ own telling of their stories.¹ It involves scrutiny of ways in which migrants construct their life histories and how that...

    • Chapter 9 ʹIʹm not a good motherʹ: gender expectations and tensions in a migrant womanʹs life story
      (pp. 149-164)
      Alistair Thomson

      Dorothy Wright was a perfectly ʹgoodʹ mother. When her two children were growing up in the late 1950s and 1960s, in Britain and Australia, Dorothy was a full-time housewife and mother. She cooked her childrenʹs meals and cleaned up after them; she sewed and knitted their clothes; she read stories, organised birthday parties and took them swimming. Like most mothers, however, Dorothy struggled to be good enough as a mother and as a housewife and, despite what Dr Spock had to say, it was not easy to do both jobs well at the same time (in fact, for mothers such...

    • Chapter 10 First love and Italian postwar migration stories
      (pp. 165-180)
      Francesco Ricatti

      This chapter considers written memories and fantasies of first love as retold by Italian migrants in Australia in the late 1950s. These stories of first love were written in letters sent between 1957 and 1961 to Il Salotto di Lena, a weekly column of the Italian-language newspaper in Australia La Fiamma. In this column, readers were asked to tell a true story from their past. After strong editing, the best stories were published and their authors received a prize of £10. In this chapter, however, I will consider the original, unedited letters written by migrants, which are kept at the...

  7. Intellect

    • Chapter 11 The Pacific as rhizome: the case of Sir Henry Alexander Wickham, planter, and his transnational plants
      (pp. 183-196)
      Ann Lane

      Sir Henry Alexander Wickham (1846–1928), pioneer planter and adventurer, is remembered for his role in the founding of the hugely lucrative imperial British rubber industry.³ He was knighted in 1920 for his services 44 years earlier, when he collected and took 70,000 seeds of the Pará rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, out of the Amazon rainforest and across the world by boat to deliver to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Although fewer than 4000 of the 70,000 seeds germinated, those 4000 were enough to become the basis of thriving plantations in the British colonies, and the eventual result some...

    • Chapter 12 A transnational imagination: Alfred Deakinʹs reading lists
      (pp. 197-212)
      Mark Hearn

      Between 1906 and 1914, Alfred Deakin (1856–1919) kept an annual record of his reading. In those nine years, in either the front or back pages of his rough diary (and sometimes in both front and back), he documented a total of 864 books—on average, 96 books a year, at a rate of nearly two a week.¹ While he read these books, Deakin served variously as Prime Minister of Australia and opposition leader, finally retiring from politics in 1913. The period 1906–09 was perhaps the busiest and certainly among the most politically productive of his career. As Prime...

  8. Imagination

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 213-214)

      For the political philosopher Hannah Arendt, imagination was the essential element in the making of what she, along with Kant, called ʹthe world citizenʹ. Without imagination, it was impossible to develop that ʹenormously enlarged empathy through which I could know what actually goes on in the mind of all othersʹ—an enlarged empathy that underpinned judging or critical thinking. ʹCritical thinking is possible only where the standpoint of all others are open to inspection,ʹ she wrote in her Lectures on Kantʹs Philosophy.

      Hence, critical thinking while still a solitary business has not cut itself off from ʹall othersʹ…[By] force of...

    • Chapter 13 From cosmopolitan romance to transnational fiction: re-reading Jean Devannyʹs Australian novels
      (pp. 215-228)
      Nancy L. Paxton

      When Jean Devanny (1894–1962) left New Zealand in 1929 bound for Sydney, she considered Australia ʹmerely a transit pointʹ and planned to travel on to England, believing it to be ʹa more favourable location for a novelistʹ. Devanny gradually came to accept Australia as her home, as Carole Ferrier argues, because of her ʹdouble commitmentʹ to the Communist Party of Australia and to her development as a writer.² While Ferrierʹs pioneering scholarship and definitive biography offer invaluable insights into Devannyʹs life and writing, I will suggest another perspective on both by exploring how her experiences in Australia transformed her...

    • Chapter 14 Paris and beyond: the transnational/national in the writing of Christina Stead and Eleanor Dark
      (pp. 229-244)
      Susan Carson

      In July 1937, two Australian writers left their respective homes and steamed across the Pacific and Indian Oceans to opposite coasts of the United States. Sailing west from Europe, Christina Stead (1902–83) and her partner, Bill Blake, reached New York on the SS Aquitania, while on the Niagara, Eleanor Dark (1901–85), with husband, Eric, crossed the Pacific to the west coast and made their way east to New York. Both women were in the great metropolis, the eternal city of the New World, but they did not meet. They had, in fact, lived in adjoining suburbs on Sydney...

    • Chapter 15 Australian ʹimmersionʹ narratives: memoirs of contemporary language travel
      (pp. 245-258)
      Mary Besemeres

      By definition, travel narratives invoke an experience of moving between cultural worlds. Only a fraction of travel books in English, however, emphasise the language borders that are crossed in much international travel, and deal in a sustained way with the question of how language impinges on the self. This question is central to a range of memoirs by migrants into English: texts such as Lost in Translation: A life in a new language (1989) by the Polish-born Canadian Eva Hoffman, Polite Lies: On being a woman caught between cultures (1997) by Japanese-born American Kyoko Mori, or Chilean exile to the...

    • Chapter 16 America and the queer diaspora: the case of artist David McDiarmid
      (pp. 259-272)
      Sally Gray

      The life and work of Australian artist David McDiarmid were impacted on strongly by his long-term interest in North American literary, visual and popular culture—an interest that was consolidated during his period of travel and residence in the United States between 1977 and 1987. McDiarmidʹs art, produced between 1976 and 1995 and which he designated from the beginning ʹgay artʹ, might be seen as both ʹmobile and locatedʹ, to borrow a term from Marsha Meskimmon,² in the sense that it was neither ʹAustralianʹ nor ʹAmericanʹ but an eclectic, multivalent attempt at a gay male art of his time. McDiarmidʹs...

  9. Objects of displacement

    • Chapter 17 Living in a material world: object biography and transnational lives
      (pp. 275-298)
      Karen Schamberger, Martha Sear, Kirsten Wehner, Jennifer Wilson, Australian Journeys Gallery Development Team and National Museum of Australia

      In 1989, Mrs Guna Kinne wrote to the National Museum of Australia about her Latvian national dress. ʹAs I have no female descendants,ʹ she explained, ʹI wish to donate the costume to an institution, preferably the National Museum.ʹ¹ The museum, then actively pursuing the development of a migration heritage collection, gratefully accepted Mrs Kinneʹs offer.

      As part of the donation, curator Sally Fletcher wrote to Mrs Kinne asking for information about the object and its owner.² Mrs Kinne replied with a letter detailing how she had begun making the dress as a teenager in Riga in the late 1930s, had...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 299-302)
  11. Index
    (pp. 303-329)