Allan Martin Award – Previous Winners

2023 Allan Martin Award Winners

Dr Rohan Howitt, ‘Undiscovering Emerald Island: Phantom Islands and Environmental Knowledge in Australia’s Southern Ocean World, 1821-1930′

Rohan Howitt receives the award for an innovative project that uses “phantom islands” in the Southern Ocean to explore the making and unmaking of environmental knowledge of the region. In a field that celebrates “discovery” and knowledge accrual, Howitt turns his attention to “undiscovery” – the strange disappearance of once-mapped islands to chart environmental knowledge in the subantarctic region from the 1820s to the 1930s. In addition to scholarly articles, the Allan Martin Award will assist Dr Howitt to produce a digital map showing how, when and why certain islands appeared and disappeared. Dr Howitt is building an impressive reputation in environmental history, and this new project is further evidence of the exciting perspectives and approaches he brings to the field. 

Dr Ben Huf, ‘The Economy Is Not A Theory: The Politics of Prosperity in Australia’

Ben Huf receives the award to support his cultural and political history of “the economy” in Australia from the 1970s onwards. The project approaches the economy as a discursive phenomenon, and applies a critical lens to the “economy talk” that has been a feature of the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Working in the intersections between political discourse, policy speak, and journalism in shaping popular understandings about the economy’s reach into everyday life, the Allan Martin Award will allow Dr Huf to undertake necessary archival and oral history research to complete a book manuscript that had its origins in a workshop hosted by the Australian Academy for Social Sciences. This project, along with his PhD on economic thinking and practice in colonial Australia, Dr Huf has established himself as a major contributor to the “new” economic history.

Highly Commended:

Sarah Kirby, ‘Inventing Percy Grainger on Page, Stage and Screen’

Hannah Murray, ‘Early Australian and US Settler Utopian Writing’

Judges: Maria Nugent (ANU), Paul Sendziuk (Adelaide), Jessica Lake (ACU)

2022 Allan Martin Award Winner

Xu Daozhi, ‘Chinese Perspectives on Indigenous People in Chinese Australian Newspapers, 1894-1937.’ 

Dr. Xu’s original and innovative project will open up a view of colonial race relations in Australia from a non-white perspective. Chinese Australian newspapers of the period are a largely untapped resource, and Dr. Xu brings to them her skills in classical Chinese. Her research promises to provide new knowledge of Indigenous-Chinese contacts and relationships as well as Chinese views of Australian settler colonialism and governance of Indigenous people. Dr. Xu’s connections with the Chinese Australian community will ensure wide public engagement with her findings. 

Highly Commended:

Nicholas Ferns, ‘Development, Decolonisation and Global Governance: The World Bank’s Impact on Australian Colonial Rule in Papua New Guinea.’ 

Dr. Ferns’s important project focusses attention on Australia’s history as a regional imperial power. His study of the impact of the World Bank on Australia’s colonial administration in Papua New Guinea will draw on previously unexamined archival sources, and shed new light on the significance of the World Bank for decolonisation in PNG. It is a timely study that will deepen our understanding of Australia’s relationships with regional nations. 

Judges: Angela Woollacott (ANU), Barry Judd (Melb Uni) and Jon Piccini (UQ)

2021 Allan Martin Award Winner

Dr Annemarie McLaren (UWA), ‘When the Strangers Come to Stay: Aboriginal-Colonial Exchanges and the Negotiation of New South Wales, 1788-1835’​

This is a sophisticated project that draws on ethnographic approaches to investigate the emergence of a distinct colonial formation in early New South Wales shaped by the entangled lives of Aboriginal local peoples and colonial newcomers. The proposed program of study is impressive, both for its academic rigour and for its commitment to consultation with Jerrinja Elders and communities in Sydney. With the support of the Allan Martin Award, Dr McLaren will undertake further research in Sydney and Canberra for the completion of her book project. Dr McLaren has established a strong record of publications and awards, including the 2020 AHA Serle Award for best postgraduate thesis. Her exciting research will provide fresh insights that will help scholars and the wider community gain a more comprehensive understanding of Indigenous-European encounters and relationships in New South Wales to the 1830s.

Highly Commended: 

  • Dr Margaret Cook (University Sunshine Coast), ‘“Actions of the Sea”: Storm Erosion in New South Wales’ ​
  • Dr Jason Gibson (Deakin University), ‘Being Drawn Together: An Intercultural History of Aboriginal Drawing in Australian Anthropology’ ​

Judges:  Ruth Morgan (ANU, Chair), Andrea Gaynor (UWA), Lyndon Megarrity (James Cook University)

2020 Allan Martin Joint Award Winners

Joint Winner: Alexandra Dellios, ‘Remembering Migrant Protest and Activism: the Migrant Rights Movement in pre-Multicultural Australia’; and Mike Jones, ‘Culture, common law, and science: representing deep human history in Australian museums’

Alexandra Dellios receives this award for a community history project tracing the memory of ‘migrant rights’ in the 1960s and 1970s. She will examine the role of migrant workers’ leagues and other left-wing community organisations in improving working conditions for migrants and securing better access to social services. Her work is history from ‘the bottom up’, written from the perspective of migrant activists themselves, and as such is a conscious break from more conventional (top-down) histories of multiculturalism. Her prior research in this field, pioneering publications and extensive work recovering oral histories impressed the judges and equip her ably for this challenging and important project. 

Mike Jones’s work will examine the way Australian Museums represent deep human history in their galleries and exhibitions. He will visit a range of cultural institutions across the country, interview archivists and curators, and consider ways in which the deep history of the continent is conveyed to school children, student, adults and visitors. The judges praised the interdisciplinary reach of the project and the way it engaged with the GLAMs sector. Mike Jones highly regarded work on archival thinking and interdisciplinary collaboration, and his engagement with a major ARC funded research project offers a firm foundation for this searching and significant scholarship. 

Judges: Bruce Scates (ANU, Chair), Melanie Oppenheimer (Flinders), Peter Hobbins (Principal Historian, Artefact Heritage Services

2019 Allan Martin Joint Award Winners

Joint Winners: André Brett, ‘Scars in the Country: An Enviro-Economic History of Railways in Australasia, 1850–1914’; and Iain Johnston-White for his research on the impact of the Second World War on Sydney as a port city.

André Brett from the University of Wollongong receives the award for a project titled ‘Scars in the Country: An Enviro-Economic History of Railways in Australasia, 1850–1914’. He is examining how railway construction in the seven Australasian settler colonies altered not only their economies and polities but also transformed their regional environments. While there has been work on railway development this is an innovative account which considers the resource depletion and environmental consequences attributable to railways in Australasia. André Brett’s strong track record includes most recently his winning the Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand’ s Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Development Prize for the best paper in the economic history stream at the 2018 Australian Historical Association conference.

Iain Johnston-White from the University of Roehampton works on the British Empire and warfare in the twentieth century. He receives this award for his research on the impact of the Second World War on Sydney as a port city. It is the ‘Australian part’ of an ambitious international and transnational project aiming at revealing the impact of war on subsequent postwar decolonisation. Iain Johnston-White argues that port cities were the primary nexus between the imperial periphery, Britain, and the wider world and the Second World War were socially transformative on the port cities economically and politically. The judges were impressed by the way he is placing the Dominions centre stage of his wider imperial project. The University of Roehampton has supported aspects of the research and the judges thought it was particularly apposite that this transnational project is internationally funded as well as researched.

Judges: Melanie Nolan (ANU – chair), Lorina Barker (University of New England), Jatinder Mann (Hong Kong Baptist University)

2018 Allan Martin Award Winner

Peter Hobbins ,‘An intimate pandemic: Fostering community histories of the 1918–19 influenza pandemic centenary’

The recipient of the 2018 Allan Martin Award is Peter Hobbins from the University of Sydney for a project titled ‘An intimate pandemic: Fostering community histories of the 1918–19 influenza pandemic centenary’. The program of study proposed is impressive, both for its academic rigour and its spirit of community engagement. Dr Hobbins proposes to work closely with local historical societies to chart how the devastating pandemic affected their communities. He has already garnered significant institutional interest for the project, with Macquarie University, the University of Sydney and the Royal Australian Historical Society all offering support. Peter Hobbins already has an impressive record of publications and innovative research. The judges are delighted to make the Award to a scholar of this calibre who is pursuing a project of such significance.

Judges: Charlotte Rose Millar (University of Queensland), Lee-Ann Monk (La Trobe University) and Martin Thomas (Australian National University)

2017 Allan Martin Award Winner

Benjamin Mountford, ‘A Global History of Australian Gold’

From a competitive field of applicants, the judges selected Benjamin Mountford’s ‘A Global History of Australian Gold’. The project seeks to revive interest in the history of Australian gold by applying a transnational and global approach. Mountford’s project traces the international and transnational influences that shaped Australia’s gold rushes; and their political, economic, social and cultural impacts overseas. This ambitious project builds on and extends the influential comparative histories of gold that were produced more than two decades ago. As part of a larger project examining connections between America’s and Australia’s rushes, the fellowship will be used towards archival research in California, including on the Sydney Ducks (convicts) and the 1851 and 1856 San Francisco Vigilance Committees. Mountford will also make field visits to ‘Sydney Town’ in San Francisco and the ghost town of Ballarat in Death Valley. This research trip will contribute directly to two journal articles; other proposed outcomes from the project include an exhibition, website, podcast series, edited collection and monograph.

Highly commended: Vannessa Hearman,  ‘Dealing with the Timorese “Boat People”: Australian and Indonesian Government Responses to the 1995 Arrival in Darwin of the Timorese Asylum Seekers Aboard the Tasi Diak’

Judges: Shino Konishi (University of Western Australia), Maria Nugent (Australian National University) and Andrew May (University of Melbourne).

2016 Allan Martin Award Winner

Ruth Morgan, Australindia: Australia, India and the Ecologies of Empire, 1788–1901

This sophisticated research proposal, to study botanical exchanges between India, the British metropole and the Australian colonies sits at the cutting edge of imperial historiography. Morgan persuasively demonstrates how she proposes to knit together environmental history, intellectual history, political history and biography by mining the records of botanical collectors. These networks of exchange were personal as well as horticultural, she argues, and the records she proposes to examine in the U.K. will illuminate the significance of governors and other decision-makers involved in the transmission of specimens and knowledge. This project promises to highlight the importance the Australian colonies as testing grounds for environmental experimentation in the context of empire. Bridging imaginatively from her PhD thesis, Morgan’s plans for the dissemination of her findings range from public seminars, symposia, an interactive website, and a finding aid for the State Library of NSW.

Highly commended: Kirstie Close-Barry, Intersecting Indigenous Histories: Aboriginal and Pacific Islander Connections in Australia’s Northern Territory

Judges: Carolyn Strange (Australian National University), Victoria Haskins (University of Newcastle), Alistair Thomson (Monash University)

2014 Allan Martin Award Winner

Dr Amanda Kaladelfos, Immigration, Violence and Australian Postwar Politics

Dr Kaladelfos’ project, ‘Immigration, Violence and Post-War Politics’, impressed the judging panel with the strength of its conceptualisation and the clarity of its aims in investigating the racialization of criminality and the criminalisation of immigrants in Australia. The capacity of this project to bring a fresh, historical approach to issues well-established in criminology and political science was particularly welcomed by the panel, as was the project’s potential to contribute an historical perspective to issues of contemporary policy and political debate. As an early career researcher,
Dr Kaladelfos has already made a sustained and original contribution to scholarship at the intersection of these fields. The Allan Martin Award will assist her in undertaking intensive archival work in Canberra, leading to further publications and contributing to collaborative partnerships with other scholars.

Judges: Nicholas Brown (Australian National University), Kirsten McKenzie (University of Sydney), Lisa Ford (University of New South Wales)

2012 Allan Martin Award Winner

Dr Melissa Bellanta, University of Queensland: The Georgia Minstrels: A Trans-Pacific Story

Judges: Ann McGrath (Australian National University), Jan Gothard, Pauline Curby (ACPHA)

2010 Allan Martin Award Winner

Judges: Jill Matthews (Australian National University), Graeme Davison, Nicholas Brown (Australian National University)

Since the judges felt that no application of sufficient merit was received, the Allan Martin Award is not awarded this year.

2008 Allan Martin Award Winner

Dr Fred Cahir, University of Ballarat: Black Gold: Aboriginal Peoples and Gold in Victoria 1850-1870

The planned outcome of the project is a richly illustrated book, to be followed by an exhibition at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Ballarat, interpretative displays at Sovereign Hill and for Parks Victoria, and interactive computer gaming for education groups. For this range of outcomes, Dr Cahir has already organized support and sponsorship from the involved parties. His intention is to use the award to finance the copying of extensive illustrations for the book. The project itself is a long overdue account of Aboriginal people on the goldfields in their multiple capacities: as miners, Native Police, guides and gold-finders, wives and sexual partners, farmers and entrepreneurs trading food and cultural items, and as local residents going about their everyday lives.

Highly commended: Dr Keir Reeves, University of Melbourne: Wild Onions, a history of Chinese gold-seekers in the Pearl River Delta region of China and the Central Victorian goldfields

A project with planned outcomes of a book, and a podcast to be downloadable from the Central Victorian goldfields heritage tourism website.

Judges: Margaret Anderson (History Trust of South Australia), Kimberley Webber (Powerhouse Museum of Sydney) and Jill Matthews (Australian National University)

2004 Allan Martin Award Winner

Dr Maria Nugent, Monash University: Botany Bay: Where Histories Meet.

Dr Nugent completed her PhD thesis on this subject at the University of Technology, Sydney, in 2000, and has since substantially revised and extended her work for publication by Allen & Unwin. Her forthcoming book is a critical and reflective study of a highly significant site in Australian history-making, a place of constant encounter and continuing negotiation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Dr Nugent’s manuscript is therefore both a subversive local history and a national study of the Australian historical imagination. It constitutes a significant and innovative contribution to knowledge and understanding of Australian history. Dr Nugent proposes to use the Award to assist the acquisition and reproduction of pictorial material for her forthcoming book.

Judges: Tom Griffiths (Australian National University, Alison Bashford, David Lee