Essay: Critically appraise the usefulness of two historical methodologies and identify shortcomings.
To uncover the secrets of the past, and document them for the future, historians must use a variety of different methodologies in order to understand the topic which they are studying. In order to comprehensively examine the people, places and events throughout history, historians need to be able to call upon different sources, using methodologies such as oral history, archaeology, site studies, statistical analysis, historical mapping, personal memory, and artefact analysis, in order to reach an accurate understanding and view of the topic in question. Archaeology and artefact studies are two important methodologies that help historians in their research. While both are connected to one another, their study and use can be very separate. Both methods have their positives and negatives, but both enable historians to move forward in their research, and discover the truth about history that could otherwise lay undiscovered.
The story of Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders of 1888 have become a fascinating part of history, due to the nature of the crimes and that fact that the identity of the murderer was never discovered. Nearly 130 years on and people are still intrigued by the era and events that took place in London’s East End. Historians, researchers, journalists, criminologists and Ripper enthusiasts continue to look into the ‘Autumn of Terror’ to discover why these crimes took place and who could have been behind them. A list of over one hundred suspects exists, and it’s possible that we may never know who did it and why. But this has not stopped people from trying to decipher the clues and come up with their own theories as to who could have viciously killed and mutilated up to eleven prostitutes, and why such acts were carried out. The British Medical Journal of September 1888, Patricia Cornwell’s Portrait Of A Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed, and Nicholas Rance’s article “Jonathan’s Great Knife”: Dracula Meets Jack The Ripper are just three of the hundreds of texts that look at the who Jack the Ripper could have been, why a person would commit these crimes, and what sort of effect they had on the population.
Essay: In what ways does the Aboriginal view of the land differ to John Locke’s Understanding of proprietorship?
The events and issues surrounding the appropriation of land in Australia has been a turbulent part of our history. From European settlement in 1788, up until the Mabo decision in 1992, there had been a white versus black debate regarding the ownership and proprietorship of land, with Terra Nullius being the main reasoning for the loss of Aboriginal land ownership. British philosopher John Locke’s views on land ownership and the British claim of land during colonial settlements in the seventeenth century, has been a frequently cited belief for the concept of Terra Nullius. However, Locke’s views are in stark contrast to those of Aboriginal Australian’s and Indigenous peoples who were adversely affected by British and European settlement.
Imagine waking up one morning and finding thousands of foreigners ready to claim Australia as their own. They have no intention of joining the native population, and neglect the fact that the native population already has ownership over the land, and that they their own laws and way of life. These foreigners want the land for themselves, believe that no one owns it, and will stop at nothing to build their own nation away from home. ‘This wouldn’t happen to a country like Australia!’ you say, ‘we will fight back against these foreigners!’ Well, this already has happened to Australia, and the natives did fight back, but the foreigners won anyway.
In January 1788, British convicts arrived on the shores of Sydney, ready to build a new nation in Australia, or New South Wales. They had been told the native population were underdeveloped, and their numbers were only small – easy to overcome with little force. But they were wrong. Prior to British occupation, there was an estimated population of between 300,000 and 1 million Aborigines, with over 200 distinct languages and over 600 tribal regions, with a history extending back at least 60,000 years – not easy to ignore now is it?
So why on earth did the British continue to settle with such a large population already claiming ownership of the land? ‘Oh I know, let’s say that these Aborigines never owned the land, and we can freely take it.’ Terra nullius allowed the settlers to claim the land for themselves, as it declared that the continent had no prior owners – the laws and customs of the existing population were considered null and void, with no rights to the land that they had lived on for millennia.
But of course, this was only the beginning of the miss-treatment of the Indigenous population. If you thought stealing their land out from under them was bad enough, the next 200 years were plagued with race discord – riots, race wars, massacres, protests, failed assimilation, land ownership disagreements, and discrimination, all because British settlers were unable to work with the native population during settlement.
Contextually, the Aboriginal population were treated no differently in the 1700s than the other races who had succumb to expansion take-over by other nations. But as the relationship between the natives and settlers continued to take a bloody route, the chances of successfully working together seemed to get further and further away.
The 1800s became a period of the ‘Black War,’ when the government set to wipe-out the Indigenous population completely, putting an end to the ‘problems’ they had caused – but, obviously, this plan failed. Then during the early 1900s, we entered a period known as the ‘Stolen Generation,’ where the government attempted to assimilate the aboriginal children by taking them away from their families and educating them in ‘how to be white.’ Remember “Rabbit Proof Fence”? Many of these children never saw their families again, and this continued until the 1970s, taking until 2007 for a formal apology to be made. But is an apology really going to make up for decades of abuse and trauma?
Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to live in Australia and be Australia, but knowing about our blood-stained past and disgusting treatment of the oldest culture in the world in the name of Australia, makes me feel somewhat ashamed to be called an Australian. We may live in a time when the Aboriginal population is more widely accepted in our society, but this does not cover up the fact that it used to be one of the richest cultures in the world, and we desperately tried to put an end to it. It was only in the latter part of the 20th century that laws were passed to support the Aboriginal population and integrate them into our society, and to accept that they did have their own customs, laws and land rights.
Even though today we have overcome the massacres, riots and land rights issues, Aborigines still face a form of discrimination, with racism still somewhat prevalent throughout society. While the Discrimination Act prevents employers from denying employment to an Indigenous person for the sake of them being indigenous, it does not stop the average Tom, Dick and Harry on the street from being generally racist.
Somewhere along the lines, a cultural perception of the Aborigines formed – that they are lazy, Centrelink-mooching, alcoholics who are criminals. In reality, this is only true for a very small, almost non-existent, minority of the population. Of course, this is seen in other racial and religious groups too – Muslims for example, are treated like terrorists, despite only a small minority of the Muslim population being linked to terrorism. For Aborigines, the entire population are treated like alcoholics and criminals, because society believes the very small minority represent the majority.
When looking back at the treatment of Indigenous Australian’s, it’s fair to say that it was extreme. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s too harsh to compare Adolf Hitler with the early Australian government – both were racist and attempted to wipe out a race and population who had done nothing to deserve such treatment. The obvious difference is that the Australian government saw their wrong-doings and attempted to fix the rift between the races. But this fix still came too late, and we as a society are still dealing with the fall-out, 227 years after British Settlement.
Imagine if this happened to you.
Essay: Why did the Australian colonies federate, and does Federation remain the best political arrangement?
The six Australian colonies united under the Commonwealth of Australia through federation in 1901. Until that time, the colonies had been running as separate entities, and divided as though separate nations. There were a number of events and reasons which led to Federation, which helped to mould Australia as a nation. Even today, 115 years after Federation was inaugurated, it still remains an important political arrangement, ensuring that our nation remains united and coherent.
Australia’s political history has many important turning points that have shaped the nation and political system we know today. From the mid-1800s, the colony of Australia began moving into a new phase of settlement, with rapid development and immigration building the new nation and turning it into a proper settlement, rather than a British penal colony. The inhabitants began forming their own sense of Australian nationalism, despite the nation still being six independent colonies. Stuart Macintyre’s A Concise History of Australia, discusses these changes, and how it lead to the federation of Australia in 1901. Despite being an important point in Australia’s history, he glosses over the road to federation, why it was important to federate, and what the colonies were looking for when they set out to unite as one nation.
The history of Australia is vast, especially when you realise it goes beyond the convict settlement of 1788. Within the first century of settlement, Australia underwent massive changes as it moved from a hunter-gather society of the Aboriginals, to a society that replicated that of England. Stuart Macintyre’s A Concise History of Australia, looks back at how the Australia we know today was formed. However, with such a vast and detailed history to cover, it is easy for things to go unexplained, or only lightly touched on. One aspect that Macintyre could have looked at in more depth, is the initial political dealings, or lack thereof, with the Aboriginal occupants and Governor Arthur Phillip.
Essay: What were the defining features of Thatcherism in the 1980s? Why did Margaret Thatcher stay in power for so long?
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a tough road ahead of her when she stepped into office in May 1979. The main factor that was going against her, and that was causing a lot of dislike and controversy, was the fact that she was the first woman in British history to become Prime Minister. However, during her tenure as Prime Minister, her leadership style and politics not only shocked the nation, but also pulled Britain out of its Cold War state. ‘Thatcherism’ became a defining part of the 1980s in Britain, and Thatcher was able to stay in office for eleven years, even with her drastically ever-changing popularity. The ‘Iron Lady’ defined an important period in British history and was able to prepare the nation for the impending 21st century.
The role and position of women in society has always been a changing fragment of history. Since the beginning of time, it has been seen how women gain and lose power and equality and how this process has been repeated throughout the centuries. However, it was World War One that had the most impact on the role and position of women in society. Since the outbreak of the war in 1914, women have become a more prominent part of society as they were given more equal opportunities to their male counterparts in the workforce and political endeavours.
Hey History Nerds!
A few days ago, Australian newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, had everyone up in arms with a news story they featured on their front page. The story was about UNSW (University of New South Wales) teaching it's students that instead of 'discovering', Captain Cook actually 'invaded' Australia.
Now, for those who are outside Australia, or those who need a quick history lesson: during one of his expeditions, Captain James Cook sailed along the east coast of Australia, and seeing it to be somewhat uninhabited, apart from a few native people, claimed it for England and named it 'New South Wales.' That was in 1770, and eight years later, the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove with 1,500 convicts to settle Australia. Only, there were a lot of Aboriginal peoples already occupying that land, and they didn't take too well to these new arrivals.
According to The Daily Telegraph, UNSW is apparently 'rewriting' history by teaching students to refer to Cook's arrival as an invasion, even though it was. People all over Australia are very divided on the topic, but I really don't see why to be honest.
The Aboriginal population in 1779 has been estimated to have been between 315,000 to 750,000, and the peoples had been inhabitants of the land for up to, what some believe, 60,000 years. In fact, it is believed that Indigenous Australian's are the oldest human race, and one of the first peoples to leave Africa as the continents broke apart.
The 'settling' of Australia was not a peaceful one, despite what some people will want you to believe. The Aboriginal population did not want these European's on their land, and the English wanted the land. Between 1788 and the late 1800s, there was massacres and plans afoot to completely eradicate the Aboriginal population to render them extinct. And don't even get me started on the Stolen Generation.
Australia was claimed Terra Nullius, meaning it had not been previously settled, which meant that the English were free to claim the land, despite the Aboriginal peoples clearing having ownership. It wasn't until the Mabo case in the 1990s that the High Court of Australia realised that Terra Nullius did not exist, and that the Aboriginal peoples did have right to the land.
So for The Daily Telegraph to come out and say that teaching history as it is is 'rewriting' history is absolutely appalling. And there have been a number of 'influential' Australians who have come out in support of the newspaper's comments.
I'm sorry, but have any of these people picked up a history book? Australia was clearly inhabited at the time of Captain Cook's 'discovery' and those who lived here did not invite the English to occupy the land. It was an invasion, and I don't see why people are complaining about the wording.
Australian history is extremely interesting, and yes, the white population did do some horrific things. So instead of turning the other way and putting your head in the sand, pick up a book and educate yourself on what happened, and see that it wasn't all sunshine and daisies and skipping off hand-in-hand into the sunset.
Australia was invaded by the British, and people shouldn't be angry at saying that.
I'm proud to be Australian, but looking back at the history of this nation, some of the actions are just shameful, and people need to learn what has really happened in their country....
If you do want to read about Australian history, I really recommend Stuart Macintyre's A Concise History of Australia.
See You Soon!
Here in my history nook, I'll be sharing anything history related, including essays that I've written, discussions on historical topics and some of my favourite historical facts!
If you love history as much as I do, you'll enjoy this little nook of my blog.