History is for the Living

David Day

I am on my second Labor Biography at the moment being David Day’s biography of John Curtin. It is hard for my generation to imagine any Australian leader coming out of the Socialist left and also coming from Victoria. I wonder what John Curtin would have thought about globalisation and the Internet? The book is an exhaustive study by a true historian of the old left but lacks the buoyancy of Don Watson’s biography of Keating.

I wonder if there is any innovation by historians in Australia or if the methodological rigidity of Keith Windshuttle has reduced the profession to little more than an artless bureaucratic door stop.

Humanities Computing


…to understand the legitimacy of a culture we need to investigate its relation to the archive, the site for the accumulation of records. Archive reason is a kind of reason which is concerned with detail, it constantly directs us away from the big generalisations, down to the particularity and singularity of the event. Increasingly the focus has shifted from archiving the lives of the good and the great down to the detail of mundane everyday life. (Mike Featherstone, 2000)

With a particular emphasis on hypertext theory, coupled with a survey of the field of Humanities Computing, I will explicate how Milkbar.com.au positions itself within the eclectic applications of online electronic scholarship in the Humanities.[1] Hypertext theory has (since the early 1960s) made significant inroads into the Humanities because hypertext is the seminal concept energising the global Internet.[2] And Humanities Computing is the most influential field of practice-based computing in the Humanities. Milkbar.com.au borrows practices from both Humanities Computing and hypertext discourse.

Continue reading “Humanities Computing”

Fitzroy as a post-industrial frontier

Post-Industrial Frontiers

The suburb of Fitzroy may not be one of the most significant nodes in the globalised world but in a similar way to other inner city districts of Melbourne and elsewhere it does have significant symbolic engagements with the world. Because it is Melbourne's oldest suburb (and thus richly historically layered) and because of its recent history as a working class industrial suburb (this in particular) means that Fitzroy has small histories that do resonate in some of the mainstay globalisation debates.

Fitzroy is one miniature stage within a networked global theatre. And the play is perchance a reflection upon the theatre itself.

Globalisation discourse dances around the totems of immigration, corporatisation, gentrification (through the new middle-class), the environment, global civil society and the broader concerns of the post-industrialisation of the major Western economies. Corporations are understood as the great pariah in the globalisation debate and post-industrialisation produces a throng of knowledge workers who cram the cafes of the gentrified inner cities. [1]

Continue reading “Fitzroy as a post-industrial frontier”

Gentrification in Fitzroy

Fitzroy is the archetype of a post-industrial Australian suburb. As Manual Castells, the Economic Geographer Kevin O'Connor, and a plethora of other authors argue, post-industrialism is the underlying catalyst for the present globalisation process.[1]

Inner city Australian communities are experiencing rapid gentrification, closing factories, rising rents and property values, and the appropriation of the working class culture that originally defined the suburbs. This is forcing out many of the long-term residents in favour of an eclectic mix of wealth distribution, lifestyles, and cultures.

Many claim that Australia is now being defined less and less by our historically definitive rural regions (as well as the great material and social egalitarianism of our post-war middle suburbs) and increasingly (for better or worse) by the culture of our inner cities, the fringes of our cities, and our bay-side towns. [2]

These changes can in part be linked to some of the major structural changes that are understood as globalisation. For instance, Fitzroy is a suburb where the factories that used to make clothes and confectionary now house the apartments of the new middle classes.[3] This is part of a larger global trend in developed countries where the majority of the workforce has shifted from the manufacturing industries into the service industries.[4]

Continue reading “Gentrification in Fitzroy”

What is globalisation?

What is globalisation?

Thankfully, globalisation is not understood as being one thing. Different groups (depending on their social and geographical positioning) interpret it in various ways depending on their own political circumstances. The minimal working definitions of globalisation (or dare I say ‘globalism') circulate around the belief that complex interconnections are rapidly developing between societies, institutions, cultures, collectives and individuals worldwide. The growth of the  Internet is part of globalisation.

These connections are believed to occur between cultural and economic practices that are local, national, technological and corporate. Globalisation is often discussed in terms of inevitability by governments, activists and academics but in my mind there is no such thing as inevitability only conformity and compliance.

Continue reading “What is globalisation?”