New issue: Volume Five Number One

History in the Making has a new issue: Volume Five Number One. This new issue continues the journal’s strong record of publishing outstanding work by history students.

This issue focusses on twentieth century European history, with insights from Swatilekha AhmedRebecca Cordony and Joanna Molloy. We also emphasise the role of women in history, most prominently in Michelle Staff’s talented examination of women’s biography.

We’re looking for new members

History in the Making is looking for new members to join our team.

We’re looking for PhD or Honours students in history, who are interested in the behind-the-scenes work involved in running a journal.

Our volunteer team shares our skills and experience to handle the journal’s:

  • liaison with our authors, reviewers, editors, and supporters;
  • graphic design;
  • publishing;
  • social media;
  • website management, and
  • database management.

If you know how to do any these things, or are keen to learn, then we want to hear from you.

The role will be easiest for someone based in Sydney. We meet about once a month, on weekends and weeknights, in Sydney.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, send us an email, telling us about your experience, why you’re interested in joining our team, and the skills that you could bring.

Call for papers

History in the Making is again calling for papers for a new issue. From first-year undergraduates with a fresh perspective on American politics, to Honours students with original research, History in the Making is the journal for up-and-coming history students.

If you have an assignment, thesis extract, or a submission prepared just for History in the Making, now is the time to submit. We will select a group of authors to work with our editors to improve their submissions and prepare them for publication in late 2017.

Submissions close 7 May 2017.

 

 

History in the Making author in focus: Rebecca Hart

Rebecca Hart is the author of ‘Where There’s a Will: Using Deceased Estate Documents to Inform Family History’, which was published in Volume 4 Number 2 of History in the Making.

Rebecca has a background in midwifery and health science, and is currently studying for a Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History at the University of New England (UNE).

In this blog post, she explains her interest in history, gives some advice about submitting to History in the Making, and gives her tips for primary archival research.

How did you come to your topic for your article?

My interest began as purely personal as Hannah, the central figure of my article, is my great-great-grandmother. I had always known the story of her being the local midwife, and became more interested in her when I became a midwife myself, and I really wanted to tell her story. Through the Grad Dip in Local, Family & Applied History at UNE I have been able to explore a range of topics around Hannah, including the paperwork relating to her death. The original essay topic was unpacking the distribution of wealth across generations within the family i.e. from Hannah to her children and subsequently onto theirs. It was interesting to see the differences in how each of the children fared and try to understand their circumstances in a socio-economic sense, especially as her daughters were much more successful than her sons. But the differences in the paperwork were also really interesting – both Hannah and Catherine’s wills are rich in clues about their relationships and connections, but dramatically different in tone, content, and intent. This is the aspect I focussed on for my article – can paperwork such as a will tell us about a person? How? Why would Hannah leave a house to Jack, but let Lizzie use it indefinitely? Why would Catherine leave the farmland to Elsie, but deny her the equipment she needed to run it? For me, family history really lives beyond names and dates on a tree and in the stories – both Hannah and Catherine left such tantalising little clues to explore!

Why do you think the study of history is important?

I think studying history gives us context for our lives. Who are we? How did we get here? Where are we going? Taking a midwifery perspective for example, I realised as a student that midwives are not taught a professional history. There is no ‘Florence Nightingale’ heroic identity or image, or stories of skilled pioneer women, respected in their community. Although the regulation of midwifery is now well documented, much of the discourse around midwifery practice is very negative, emphasising baby-farmers, abortionists, and Dickensian ‘Sairy Gamp’ style drunkards, and often couched in ‘us and them’ terms in opposition to the professions of nursing and/or obstetrics. Midwifery has begun a process of re-establishing itself as a discrete profession in the last decade or so, but we have no context for professional identity or professional pride without knowing our history. How can we know who we are or where we are going if we do not know who or where we came from?

What advice would you give to someone considering submitting an article to the journal?

Do it! It is a really interesting process from being told a paper is good and ‘you should publish that’ to producing an article for publication. It was actually fun to be able to ditch the assigned question and reframe it to focus on my choice of topic. The peer-review feedback process was revealing in the way it presented different perspectives to those I had considered, and also provided genuinely constructive criticism on technical aspects of writing and editing. The 1-1 feedback from my assigned editor was invaluable. There was nothing threatening in the process, and everyone I dealt with from the journal was supportive and encouraging. I was much more excited than I expected to see my paper ‘out there’ – tick that goal off the bucket list! – and the reactions of my lecturers, friends & family have been great.

How did you find and access your primary sources?

Most of the primary sources for this paper are available in public archives – Public Record Offices in Northern Ireland (PRONI) and Victoria (PROV), Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages Victoria (BDMVic), National Archives UK and Australia, Parliamentary papers, Convict LINC Tasmania, Victoria Police Museum, and Trove. Some of these are freely available online, for example, many wills in Victoria can be downloaded free from PROV, and LINC provides extensive convict records free. Other resources require a trip to the archive to view and photograph, such as land grants from PROV. Victoria Police service records must be requested through the media unit before a .pdf is emailed. Although they can be valuable, I have so far refused to pay for services such as ancestry.com, but instead accessed them via my local library. These services can be very hit-and-miss: you might spend hours and find nothing or strike absolute gold in minutes. Similarly, you might find nothing in one and loads in another on the exact same person! It can be time consuming and frustrating. Also, you may or may not be able to access actual documents; sometimes only a transcript is available. BDMVic is excellent in that online searching is now free, and certificates are available for immediate download but of course there is a cost, and at $25 per certificate it can become very expensive to explore a family.

Where would you like to take your research next?

I want to do a major research project around Grannie Watts next year, exploring her midwifery practice in rural Victoria 1880-1920.

You’re hosting a dinner party. Which three historical figures are invited?

1. My great-great grandmother Hannah Jane ‘Grannie’ Watts obviously!

2. Mary Gilbert – the pregnant wife of blacksmith James, Mary was the only woman on the Enterprize, which landed in Port Phillip in August 1835.

3. Abraham Lincoln

History in the Making author in focus: David Taylor

History in the Making recently published David Taylor’s article about race and aesthetics in the nineteenth century portraits of Thomas Bock and Benjamin Duterrau.

David is a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania, where he is writing a thesis about knowledge and information networks in eighteenth century Britain and Europe. He can be found at UTAS, LinkedIn, Academia.edu and Twitter.

Here, he describes his writing process, his experience of the peer review process at History in the Making, and his ideal dinner party.

What did you learn from the peer review process?

I gained an awful lot from the peer review process. For one, it opens your work up to constructive criticism. While you may feel that this kind of thing is a negative thing that you do not need, it’s important to remember that, at most times of your career in history, you will be asked to offer your work up for reading, debate, and criticism. Why not start with History in the Making, where you can get reviews from peers and fellow students, and learn from there? It also allows you to become familiar with the ongoing editing process. Many students come out of high school and into university without the important editing skills that make good work great. Editing is as important as the article itself. It can let down your work if it looks shabbily edited, or not edited at all, no matter how many references you make. Lastly, it taught me to work for reward. You need to set yourself goals as a researcher, and to have a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of publication, is a major bonus.

Why did you choose to study history?

I chose history as much as history chose me. From when I was a little boy, I was exposed to the wonders of history through documentaries and books. As a teenager, I would write fictitious histories of European kingdoms and write myself into their narratives. It might sound obsessive or strange, but I think now that it was history enacting itself through my learning, and vice versa. By writing early and writing a lot, it taught me to develop my thinking, reasoning, editing, and story-telling abilities. So early on, story-telling was as important to me as history itself. The two link together perfectly. Even if history is not your sole passion, it has a way of binding itself to your brain and making you think differently about so many areas of your life.

What’s your writing process?

My writing process is to continuously write. In previous times, I was very much a cerebral researcher, taking thousands of words of notes for an assignment that might be only 500-1000 words in length. That is fine for undergraduate work. When and if you come to postgraduate study, it is important to write continuously, because storing references in a master file or in your head will only get you so far before one or both explode. Writing continuously links to editing continuously, and by the end of a research project, you can be working with a large chunk of good text, instead of starting from scratch! Also, a good lecturer once told me to write up every book that came across my desk. Just write 100-200 words on it, so that you don’t forget later what you read or why you read it.

What’s your favourite history book?

My favourite history book would have to be The Embarrassment of Riches by Simon Schama. It is a study of wealth and culture in the Dutch Golden Age and it is what taught me that history writing doesn’t have to be boring, nor does it have to be strictly academic. The book subconsciously taught some of the most important elements of historical writing: a sharp eye for detail, meticulous research and referencing, and above all, a delivery method that captures the reader. Although I have wandered many different historical paths since first reading it, it is a book I return to in the course of many different investigations. It’s a sign of a good history book, that it becomes a reference guide to many different areas of your work.

Who is a historian you admire and why?

Again, I would return to Simon Schama. A reasonable amount of my lecturers over the course of my studies have crinkled their nose at the mention of his name, as if he were a glass of milk poured on the day of its expiry. I never understood their reaction. There is an unspoken disregard for historians who ‘go mainstream’, as if they’re somehow corrupting the discipline. What Schama has instilled in me is a belief that history is not just for academics and journals, but for everyone, to relate to and to learn from. It is our common heritage, the dirt beneath our feet and the words on the pages before our eyes. We must dust it off, lift it up, and make it presentable to the world, and we must do so with respect to history itself, and not to suit our own ends.

You’re hosting a dinner party. Which three historical figures are invited?

I think the first choice would have to be Rembrandt van Rijn, the famous Dutch Golden Age artist. Not only would be supply interesting conversation, he would also probably paint a quick portrait of our group for posterity. I’ve seen enough time travel movies to know these moments can easily be lost forever. Rembrandt is also highly enigmatic, with a magnetic force around his life and his work that has made or broken the careers of many historians and art historians. Along with him, I think I’d invite the topic of my PhD dissertation, Sir Andrew Mitchell, the British envoy to Prussia during the Seven Years’ War. Not only could this fill in much of my historical research, but he is also a diplomat highly skilled and informed in many different areas, and perhaps there would be no better placed person to enlighten me on the attitudes, beliefs, and world of the eighteenth century than him. His career also crossed paths with many eminent persons of that century, and so it would be like having a reference guide at the table. Having invited a seventeenth and an eighteenth century figure, my last guest would be a Roman, but for a fun evening, let’s go with Caligula. Many of the rumours and anecdotes surrounding the young emperor’s life have persisted for centuries, and while some may be true, many have been brought into question. His fiery determination and acute paranoia for security don’t seem to be in doubt, and also the rich cultural heritage of a young Roman Empire would be too much for my dinner guests to resist. Not only could we be entertained by stories of Rome, but the darker side of Rome would also be fantastic dinner conversation. Maybe we could finally resolve the debate over whether or not he made his horse a Roman consul! It’s in Rome and Greece, too, that my historical inspiration began, so all the more reason to invite this tarnished emperor.

New issue: Volume 4 Number 2

A new issue of History in the Making is out now

After months of painstaking effort by our authors, editors and reviewers, History in the Making is pleased to announce a new issue. In this issue, the journal maintains its high standard of inquisitive, thoughtful works by undergraduates, complemented and honed by a dedicated team of postgraduates.

Two articles in this issue exemplify the exciting and diverse source material available to undergraduate history students. Rebecca Hart provides a close analysis of death certificates, wills, obituaries and deceased estate files to reveal the very personal experiences of a Victorian family. Hart focuses on the experiences and relationships of prominent women within the family, and uncovers the rich stories that can be found in often-dry legal documents. David Taylor accesses interactions between white Tasmanians and indigenous Australians through Benjamin Duterrau and Thomas Bock’s portrayals of Truggernana, Mannalargenna, George Augustus Robinson and their contemporaries, concluding that there is more to these artworks than meets the eye.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century United States history remains a popular topic for our contributors. Hope Williams recounts the activities of abortionist Ann Lohman, known as ‘Madame Restell’, in nineteenth-century New York City. Her career, the controversy with which it was met, and the media coverage of that controversy, are evaluated as manifestations of contemporary social issues. Peter Harney also accesses the social issues that loomed large in the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century, by examining the transformation of punishment from physical violence to architectural power and surveillance. Harney places that transformation in a broader social context of disease, secularisation and industrialisation.

History in the Making continues to publish strong works examining early modern and ancient periods. Jennifer Lord explores the portrayal of female mystics by male and female hagiographers, to identify attitudes to gender in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. She concludes that these mystics were constructed in a way that accommodated their spirituality within existing power structures. Debbie Turkilsen reaches further back, closely examining the rhetorical devices used by Julius Caesar to persuade his audience in The Civil War. She reveals that the text is indeed rhetorical, intended to communicate Caesar’s attitude towards the controversial events described in his work.

Cover 4.2

Peru’s ‘Difficult Times’ and the Ongoing Struggle for Human Rights

The years 1980 to 2000 in Peru have been given a special name in the Quechua language used in parts of the country: ‘sasachakuy tiempo’ or the ‘difficult times’.

During those two decades, a Maoist rebel group known as the Shining Path (or Sendero Luminoso) fought what was effectively a civil war against the Peruvian government and armed forces.

The war was bloody and protracted, with massacres and torture of combatants and civilians common, and both sides guilty of committing atrocities. By the time it ended, approximately 70,000 Peruvians had died and 500,000 people had been internally displaced.

This traumatic period in Peruvian politics has left two distinct legacies that still compete for space in the country’s modern public memory.

The first is – depending who you talk to – the unifying or infamous Alberto Fujimori, president from 1990 to 2000. Fujimori led the state’s crackdown on Sendero Luminoso while also aggressively pursuing economic reforms, leaving a profound impact on Peru’s rural areas. Though the ex-president is now imprisoned, Fujimori’s name remains ubiquitous, especially as his daughter Keiko is currently leading opinion polls for next month’s presidential election.

Keiko Fujimori is a front runner in Peru's 2016 president election (Photo: Alan, via flickr)

Keiko Fujimori is a front runner in Peru’s 2016 president election (Photo: Alan, via flickr)

 

The potential return of a Fujimori to power has also raised new questions over the second issue still unresolved since the conflict ended: the demand that the human rights violations of these decades – especially those committed by the State against civilians – be recognised, with justice and dignity brought to those most affected.

Remembering ‘Sasachakuy Tiempo’

The purported goal of the Shining Path was to overthrow the Peruvian political system and replace it with a communist peasant revolutionary regime. As such, its main recruiting efforts occurred in Peru’s impoverished mountainous provinces, where combat was most widespread. Civilians in these regions, many of them indigenous peoples, were among the most affected by the human rights violations of the period.

One of the poorest parts of Peru, Ayacucho is a heavily indigenous region and the site where the Civil War emerged under Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman in May 1980. Even today, many of the crimes committed in the era remain under-acknowledged.

Shining Path propaganda and the areas most affected by the conflict (Images via Wikipedia)
Shining Path propaganda and the areas most affected by the conflict (Images via Wikipedia)

 

Attempts to preserve the memory of those who died in Ayacucho during the Civil War and advocate for the protection of those human rights which were violated during this period is a key goal of the Peruvian National Association of Relatives of the Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared (ANFASEP), founded by Angélica Mendoza de Ascarza Pocos in September 1983.

The ANFASEP’s Museum of Memory documents other attacks on civilians, including the killing of eight journalists in Uchuracchay in January 1983. It also describes how in December 1984, 125 women and children were killed after having been forced to dig their own graves. The group’s members also reveal details of the traumatic past.

Isabel Escalante is a current member of ANFASEP and works at its Memory Museum. Born in December 1980, the life of Escalante’s family was turned upside down during the ‘difficult times’. She told the Argentina Independent that: “three of my siblings disappeared in my community and one of them here in the city of Huamanga [Ayacucho]- he was a student of the San Cristobel of Huamanga University and was taken captive by the people who took him to the Police Investigation… to this day none of us know his whereabouts”.

Mila Segovia Roja is another ANFASEP member who also works as a nursery teacher. She grew up in Wachinga, Ayacucho, with her grandparents in what she describes as a state of ‘grandeur’,  with cattle, sheep, pigs, horses and birds. She says that in 1984: “the terrorists assassinated my relatives. I wanted to die- when I found out [that my grandparents had died] I felt that I didn’t have a family, my biological mother took me to Lima, and 15 days later I returned”.

Whilst Shining Path and state killings were worst in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the culpability of government action during the Civil War was compounded by a government sterilisation program introduced in 1996.

Peru’s Health Ministry estimated in 2002 that over 260,000 women were sterilised between 1996 and 2000. Few of these women gave consent, many were indigenous, impoverished, and Quechua speakers and almost all are still seeking justice today with the support of human rights organisations.

The ANFASEP memorial museum in Ayacucho (Photo via ANFASEP)

The ANFASEP memorial museum in Ayacucho (Photo via ANFASEP)

 

A Country Still Divided

In the years following the ‘difficult times,’ many more stories like those of Escalante and Segovia Roja have come to light. In 2003, a Truth and Reconciliation Report (which was commissioned two years earlier) was published, aiming to move the country towards accountability, historical consciousness, and reconciliation.

This report is similar to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission which followed the end of Apartheid in that it aimed to give voice to those who had been silenced during the country’s conflict. The Peruvian report found that 69,280 people died during this period. At least 43 incidents of crimes committed by the government and Shining Path were identified.

In this way it formally condemned the actions of both sides and provided a context for the imprisonment of both Abimael Guzman and Alberto Fujimori. In 1993 Sendero leader Abimael Guzman was handed a life sentence for terrorism against the state, whilst in 2009 Alberto Fujimori received a 25-year sentence for crimes against humanity.

However, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission also found that the government, media and the education system were co-opted in the perpetuation of violence. It reported that for reconciliation to be effected, there must be a institutional acknowledgement of Peru’s multiethnic composition.

It is in this area that change has been lagging, as there remains a vast power imbalance between coastal Peru, especially Lima, and the country’s other two regions: the Andean highlands and Amazon rainforest. In Ayacucho itself, in 2013 the local newspaper the Voice of Huamanga revealed that 92.5 per cent of its people don’t have potable water; 50 per cent of adults suffer from hypertension that cannot be treated due to the cost of medicine; and 9 per cent suffer from tuberculosis.

Many of the efforts to achieve reconciliation for what happened to the victims of the Civil War are impeded by these lingering divisions, and the way in which the conflict undermined community relationships.

Those who came to Lima from the Andes during the conflict were often perceived as being sympathetic to the Shining Path. Some were labelled as terrorists or subversives in Lima and ended up being targeted by both the armed forces and the Shining Path.

Moreover, these displaced victims sometimes faced further marginalisation from their own communities when they returned from where they had fled. After returning to her community of Punqui from Lima, Escalante describes how: “my parents were the ones who suffered the things that happened… when we wanted to return they didn’t want to receive us back into the community but my parents left and returned to our town in any case”.

For Segovia Roja, her grief was compounded by the excruciating search for the remains of her grandparents, and the resistance she has encountered among the villagers of Wachinga. Segovia Roja recounted to me that in her search; “the people in the village were silent about how they disappeared the body, they insulted me: at the start I was afraid but then I revealed myself [as searching for the remains] and began to call them assassins. I went forward very bravely, I said to them ‘screw it, kill me- where are my relatives you owe me’ later they began to run from me”.

Peru Moving Forward

Due to the difficulties they face as individuals searching for justice, the strength in numbers derived from ANFASEP for both Escalante and Segovia Roja has been crucial. Escalante states that: “ANFASEP is represented by fighting women that are never defeated by anything. There always have been difficulties since the organisation was initiated but they have never had their colours lowered in any way.” Like Escalante, Segovia Roja told me of the special bonds formed among ANFASEP members, “I feel like I’m amongst family with them”.

But while recognition of past crimes is key to healing the country’s wounds, a greater awareness of today’s socio-economic divisions and problems is also an essential part of finding justice.

A member of the Lima-based activist group Art for Memory, Mauricio Delgado Castillo is someone who is cognisant of the links between economic and social justice. He argues that in Peru the struggles of the ‘difficult times’ and today are very much the same, stating that: “The continuity faces the same issues (social inequality and structural racism) and suffers from the same common sentiments like contempt for others and negation of the common good”.

Addressing the hostility towards the culture of rural Peru within Lima is something Delgado Castillo emphasises as an important objective of his group. He said his group strong believes that “art allows us to open perspectives” and says the itinerance of its exhibitions around different cities is its main strength.

A temporary exhibit by Arte por la Memoria, which seeks to create more awareness of Peru's violent past (Photo via Arte por la Memoria)

A temporary exhibit by Arte por la Memoria, which seeks to create more awareness of Peru’s violent past (Photo via Arte por la Memoria)

“We saw the need to go right to the centre of things, to open space to the convulsion and dynamism of the streets,” he describes. “The flexibility of a museum that could be set up in a plaza, a university or a union, allows us a lot to access more members of the public than if we had a fixed location”.

The impact of the Peruvian internal conflict remains pronounced over fifteen years since its conclusion. Many of the difficulties which the country faces today – gaping social divisions, inter-generational trauma, and a highly concentrated media – make dealing with the legacy of that time will be very hard work.

Yet, there are reasons for optimism. The Peruvian Ombudsmen’s Reports into forced sterilisations has received backing from doctors and significant media exposure, and in 2015 saw the creation of a victim’s registry. Also last year, on 17 December, the Place of Memory, Tolerance and Social Inclusion was inaugurated to provide more coverage of the Civil War to Limeños and international visitors.

Moreover, activists are increasingly pushing the government, demanding more. For example, critics simultaneously acknowledge the importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and suggest that it may underplay the State’s role in human rights abuses during the Civil War.

And there is the visible and persistent part of civil society which is pushing for these events to be acknowledged: ANFASEP, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Art for Memory are just some of those seeking a better future through reconciliation with the past.

They are realistic and determined. Escalante says that: “I don’t know if we can achieve justice and the truth for all those events, it is difficult…but I would like to see those who are responsible pay for their crimes”.

For Delgado Castillo, this is an issue wider Peruvian society must take on, though creating “a space that the relatives of the victims feel in some way is theirs and with which we accompany their struggles”.

Whether this space will be created remains to be seen. The outcome of next month’s elections will go a long way to showing us the political will Peru has for adopting these struggles.

 

Cameron McPhedran 

Cameron McPhedran has traveled extensively through the Americas and lived in Buenos Aires and Berkeley. He is currently studying for a Masters of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of New South Wales, and has worked as a reviewer and editor for History in the Making.

This post originally appeared on the Argentina Independent, and we thank them for allowing us to republish it here.