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Research Seminar Series

Semester 2, 2017

Fridays 12:05pm
Stretton Room (Napier Building, Fourth Floor, Room 420)

All Welcome

Enquiries to Rob Foster

11 August

Robin Prior

University of Adelaide

‘How to declare War.’

In 1914 Britain was the only European country to declare war on Germany. It was also the last country to do so in that year. This seems to indicate a deliberate act or series of acts that took some time to evolve. Yet recent historiography suggests that Britain was a diplomatic sleepwalker - that it went unthinking into the war. In this paper I want to investigate the decision-making process that eventually led Britain to its declaration of war and in the process test the hypothesis that it was a sleepwalker. Much emphasis will be placed on the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey and his departmental machinery. But the actions of the British Cabinet and Parliament in the process will also investigated in order to see what role these representative institutions played. Overall I wish to arrive at a conclusion regarding the appropriateness or otherwise of Britain's decision to enter the war.


25 August

Peter Whellum

Law School, University of Adelaide

‘Policing the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands: A Brief History and Contemporary Issues’

(Joint History/Law seminar)

This paper is an attempt to rectify the dearth of literature available regarding policing the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the north west of South Australia.  Forming part of the author’s doctoral thesis, this paper briefly examines the history of policing the north west of the state before critically analysing contemporary issues with the current policing practices in this remote area, one which is home to approximately 2500 Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people (Anangu) who still practice a semi-traditional lifestyle governed by Tjukulpa (the Dreaming).  Evidence gained from existing literature and empirical research conducted by the author reveals that underpinning the majority of issues is a lack of cultural understanding and awareness on the part of police, a matter which would be greatly ameliorated by providing officers with an effective and on-going cultural awareness training programme.

8 September

Sabina Flanagan

University of Adelaide

‘Baldwin of Forde and the Limits of Diplomacy’.

Gerald of Wales famously described Baldwin of Forde (archbishop of Canterbury, 1184-90) as a better monk than abbot, a better abbot than bishop and a better bishop than archbishop.

Admittedly our knowledge of Baldwin’s life and career is patchy. We know much more, for example, about his predecessor, Thomas Becket, and his contemporary, Bishop Hugh of Lincoln. However,  examining Baldwin’s career —  first as Cistercian monk and abbot, then Bishop of Worcester and finally Archbishop of Canterbury —through the lens of diplomacy may help to explain why he seems to have failed to live up to his early promise, and indeed, why the sources for his life are comparatively limited.

I will argue that things would have been different if he had not alienated the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, the Benedictine community who served the cathedral, and over whom he had titular authority both as abbot and archbishop. The apparent failures of diplomacy on Baldwin’s part in the ensuing dispute, which remained unresolved when he died at the siege of Acre in 1190, are better understood in the light of his beliefs about authority, obedience and trust, as discussed in his sermons and other spiritual writings, than as simple failures of tact or tactics.


15 September

Alan Lester

University of Sussex

'Snapshots of Empire: Governing Everywhere and all at Once'.

Imperial officials in nineteenth century London did not necessarily sit at their desks pondering the development of policy one British colony at a time, and nor did they consistently plan at the scale of the British Empire at large. Imperial thinking occurred through daily geographical comparison and connection. Different colonies and their populations came into, and receded from, officials’ view as pressing issues of governance were considered. The empire as a whole was considered only when these issues were conceived as interconnected. Surprising connections between places emerge when we see imperial administration more realistically, as the art of managing trade-offs between Parliament’s, colonial governors’, colonists’ and colonized peoples’ agendas, in many different places, on an everyday basis.  The approach adopted in this project, and outlined in this seminar, stems from the first attempt to examine all of the incoming and outgoing correspondence of both the Colonial Office and the East India Company (later India) Office during certain key moments. We have studied this correspondence regardless of where despatches came from and where outgoing directives were sent. We have thus taken ‘snapshots’ of the kaleidoscopically shifting array of issues and places that informed the art of British imperial governance. Discussion of the overarching themes of Freedom, Crisis and Liberalism, we suggest, tied the spheres of the Colonial and India Offices into an imperial system during each of our episodes, even while their cultures and practices were so different.

Department of History

Level 7, Napier Building


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