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Complex Science for a Complex World

Complex Science for a Complex World: Exploring Human Ecosystems with Agents

Ann Curthoys
Marilyn Lake
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Complex Science for a Complex World
    Book Description:

    It is well known that human activities are endangering the stability and sustainability of many fragile ecosystems to such an extent that their future is in doubt. At the same time, these ecosystems are inherently challenging to manage successfully because of the complexity and uncertainty associated with their ongoing evolution. Much of this complexity and uncertainty may be attributed to the human dimension. Thus it is imperative that we deepen our understanding of how and why people choose to interact with one another and how this interactive behaviour affects these ecosystems as time passes. Fortunately, a new kind of science is helping us deepen our understanding of how human ecosystems might grow and change over time. Beyond a mere collation of various reflections and applications, the chapters in this book aim to convince the reader that this new kind of science is worthy of our attention. It is a science that fully embraces the complexity of our surrounding world. It is also a science that addresses the frontiers of interactions between human behaviour and environmental responses. Furthermore, it is a science that challenges our limited understanding and treatment of uncertainty. And finally, because it is socially embedded, it is a science that can generate partnerships with local communities in a constructive manner. We hope that you will enjoy the reading of such a diverse 'ouvrage' whose purpose is to attract more early career scientists into our field of research and to convince decision-makers that a growing contingent of colleagues working on complexity theory can provide useful tools and methods to better understand complex and adaptive environments. It is time to reassure you (the reader) that the rise of a 'Complex Science for a Complex World' doesn't mean more complicated relationships between science and society.

    eISBN: 978-1-920942-39-7
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-vi)
    Ann Curthoys and Marilyn Lake
  4. Contributors
    (pp. vii-4)
  5. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 5-20)
    Ann Curthoys and Marilyn Lake

    For some years, historians have been pointing to the significance and implications of history’s complicity with the nation state. History as a professional discipline was constituted to serve the business of nation building, and has accordingly very often seen its task as providing an account of national experience, values and traditions, thus helping forge a national community. The question historians are now asking is: has history as handmaiden to the nation state distorted or limited our understanding of the past? And if so, can a transnational approach help develop new and more adequate forms of historical writing?¹

    This collection of...

  6. Different Modes of Transnational History

    • 2. Putting the nation in its place?: world history and C. A. Baylyʹs The Birth of the Modern World
      (pp. 23-44)
      Tony Ballantyne

      History writing and the nation state have a symbiotic relationship. From the eighteenth century, the development of professional historical writing has been entwined with the elaboration and consolidation of national identity. Professional historians have typically worked in archives created, funded and policed by the state and have been employed by institutions that are either financed or regulated by the state. The stories that historians have most often told are national ones; the nation state remains a key, probably the key, unit for historical analysis and narrative. This is true not only in the ʹWestʹ, where history has been a primary...

    • 3. Paths not yet taken, voices not yet heard: rethinking Atlantic history
      (pp. 45-62)
      Michael A. McDonnell

      Of late, scholarly journals in the discipline of history have been filled with arguments stressing the need to break with traditional historiographic boundaries. In particular, we are told that in this global age, we must move ʹbeyond the nationʹ in our research and in our teaching. In the early modern history of Europe and the Americas, these arguments for thinking ʹtransnationallyʹ have of late coalesced around a call to focus on the Atlantic World as a new conceptual framework.

      Yet, for all these exhortations and good intentions, and a proliferation of conferences and edited collections with titles evoking ʹtransnationalʹ or...

    • 4. Postcolonial histories and Catherine Hallʹs Civilising Subjects
      (pp. 63-74)
      Angela Woollacott

      As with any area of scholarship, there is much slippage in the terminology of transnational histories. Scholars inflect the terms ʹglobal historyʹ, ʹworld historyʹ and ʹpostcolonial historyʹ differently. Yet even if these terms inevitably lack precision and completely consensual meaning, there are differences to be descried in their general usage – at least, to my mind, between the terms ʹworld historyʹ and ʹpostcolonial historyʹ, particularly the kind of world history most associated with the Journal of World History and the World History Association. My task here is to posit some of the characteristics and contributions of postcolonial histories as a...

  7. Migration and Other Voyages

    • 5. Steal a handkerchief, see the world: the trans-oceanic voyaging of Thomas Limpus
      (pp. 77-88)
      Emma Christopher

      In Geoffrey Blaineyʹs seminal work The Tyranny of Distance the idea is present even in the title. For the early Europeans in Australia, he argues, their distance from their homeland was the ʹtyrannyʹ of their position, and that distance obviously involved the miles between land masses. The sea, by implication, was a void, a barrier to be crossed to another ʹrealʹ location. What is more, Blainey is uninterested in the experiences which had led the convicts across that watery non-place to their new home. It had apparently been covered as if in the blink of an eye. Distance was something...

    • 6. Revolution and respectability: Chinese Masons in Australian history
      (pp. 89-110)
      John Fitzgerald

      In 1911 a lodge of the international Hung League opened an impressive building in Mary Street, Sydney, looking west along Campbell Street towards Paddyʹs Markets where many of its members earned their livelihood. The Hung League – or Triads as they are often known in English – had grown over the five decades since setting foot in colonial Australia from a loose affiliation of rural clubs into an organised social network with a prominent urban profile. With the opening of its new headquarters in Sydney, the New South Wales Hung League put on a respectable public face under the English...

    • 7. ʹInnocents abroadʹ and ʹprohibited immigrantsʹ: Australians in India and Indians in Australia 1890–1910
      (pp. 111-124)
      Margaret Allen

      In 1907, Eleanor Rivett MA, a young modern woman and a graduate of Melbourne University, left Australia to become a missionary for the London Missionary Society in Calcutta. As she made her way from Colombo up to Calcutta, she stopped off in Madras, and spent a day with Elsie Nicol, another Melbourne graduate. Nicol was running the YWCA hostel in Madras, where women students could stay while studying at Madras University. In following her vocation as a missionary in India, Eleanor was leaving behind her parents and her numerous siblings. But she and her brother David had made a vow,...

    • 8. Postwar British emigrants and the ʹtransnational momentʹ: exemplars of a ʹmobility of modernityʹ?
      (pp. 125-136)
      A. James Hammerton

      By definition all migration which involves border crossings might be said to be transnational. The truism is so obvious that itʹs arguable that simply affixing the ʹtransnationalʹ label does not tell us anything new about meanings of migration, in terms of either collective identities or individual and group experience. Social historians of migration for years have, in effect, written transnational histories, recounting, in Oscar Handlinʹs classic formulation, the epic stories of the uprooted and the transplanted, their stories of trauma, alienation and vindication in two countries, and subsequently the continuing contacts and networking of family members and communities between, at...

  8. Modernity, Film and Romance

    • 9. ʹFilms as foreign officesʹ: transnationalism at Paramount in the twenties and early thirties
      (pp. 139-156)
      Desley Deacon

      Film scholar Miriam Hansen argues that American mainstream cinema developed a ʹglobal vernacularʹ – what she calls elsewhere ʹan international modernist idiom on a mass basisʹ - whose transnational appeal derived from diverse domestic traditions, discourses, and interests, including those of the cosmopolitan Hollywood community. ʹHollywood did not just circulate images and soundsʹ, she argues, ʹit produced and globalized a new sensorium; it constituted … new subjectivities and subjects.ʹ¹ Although Hansen refers to the ʹcosmopolitan Hollywood communityʹ, American mainstream cinema was created as much in New York as in Hollywood during the 1920s and early 1930s, when the American film...

    • 10. Modern nomads and national film history: the multi-continental career of J. D. Williams
      (pp. 157-170)
      Jill Julius Matthews

      In its technology, production, marketing and reception, film has been both modern and global from its very beginnings in the late nineteenth century. So there are strong empirical and epistemological claims for a transnational approach to its history. But, paradoxically, most film histories have been decidedly focused on the notion of national culture and industry. In this chapter, while I will make a case for film history to broaden out and at least establish the transnational context for their national stories, I will also explain my pessimism that this approach will not be widely adopted.

      My account begins with the...

    • 11. The Americanisation of romantic love in Australia
      (pp. 171-192)
      Hsu-Ming Teo

      This chapter explores the transnational influence of consumer capitalism on the culture of romantic love in Australia during the twentieth century, particularly as it has been manifested through advertising. I want to utilise Benedict Andersonʹs well-known argument about how print capitalism created the ʹimagined communityʹ of the nation to argue that if the circulation of texts throughout society can foster feelings of nationalism,¹ they can also create or affect emotional experiences of romantic love.²

      These ideas and expectations take root across national boundaries precisely because love is often assumed to be self-evidently universal; an unchanging part of the human condition,...

  9. Transnational Racial Politics

    • 12. Transcultural/transnational interaction and influences on Aboriginal Australia
      (pp. 195-208)
      John Maynard

      The influence of Marcus Garveyʹs Black Nationalist movement on the mobilisation for Aboriginal self-determination in the 1920s remains little known in the dominant Australian historical interpretation. Scholars in Australia have given scant regard to the interconnections between Aboriginal people and international relations, and have focused their examination of race relations on those between black and white. In particular, their studies of external influences on movements for Aboriginal self-determination have focused on white Christian and humanitarian influences. Given the reality of globalisation and tense international relations, it is timely to explore the historical, political, cultural and economic relationships between Aboriginal people...

    • 13. From Mississippi to Melbourne via Natal: the invention of the literacy test as a technology of racial exclusion
      (pp. 209-230)
      Marilyn Lake

      In 1910, in an article first published in the New York journal the Independent, called ʹThe Souls of White Folkʹ, the Black American historian, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote about his perception of a sudden change in the world, indeed the emergence of a ʹnew religionʹ: ʹthe world in a sudden emotional conversion, has discovered that it is white, and, by that token, wonderfulʹ.¹ In noting that ʹwhite folkʹ had suddenly ʹbecome painfully conscious of their whitenessʹ, Du Bois was pointing to the emergence of a new subjective mode of identification that crossed national borders, an identification as white...

  10. Postcolonial Transnationalism

    • 14. Islam, Europe and Indian nationalism: towards a postcolonial transnationalism
      (pp. 233-266)
      Patrick Wolfe

      As a comparative historian interested in race and colonialism, I sometimes find myself wondering what all the fuss is about when people advocate transnational history. Putting the definitional niceties of the term ʹnationʹ aside for the moment and using it, in a vernacular sense, as something like ʹcountryʹ, both race and colonialism are inherently transnational phenomena. Confronted with the call to transnationalise, therefore, the historian of race and colonialism might well recognise how Mark Twain must have felt on discovering that he had been speaking prose all his life. Even in internal-colonial contexts, at least one of the contending parties...

  11. Index
    (pp. 267-279)