Catch up on Deep Conversations: Space, Data, Place

Digital mapping is becoming an increasingly common tool for historical research in Australia, providing historians with new ways of visualising and representing the past. How can historians use the tools, methods, and outputs of digital humanities to gain new insights into the Australian past? How can these tools be used to tell accessible stories of space, place, and Country? What kinds of sources do historians require to produce these histories? What skills are required and how can historians learn them? And are there political or ethical considerations when mapping and representing the Australian past in this way?

In this seminar, Mike Jones (ANU), Fiannuala Morgan (ANU), Emma Thomas (UNSW), and Bill Pascoe (Melbourne) reflect on the use of digital mapping in their work and discuss the promises and pitfalls of these methods. This is a rare opportunity to see how Australian historians are using the tools of digital humanities to investigate deep time, bushfires, ‘blackbirding’ in the Pacific, and frontier massacres, and to discuss the questions, research, technology, and skills that underlie these kinds of outputs.

You can catch up on this conversation here:

About the Speakers

Mike Jones is an archivist, historian, and collections consultant. He has a background in art history, and over a decade of experience working with the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) on digital, archival, and public history projects. He is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the ‘Rediscovering the Deep Human Past’ project in the Research Centre for Deep History at the Australian National University. The project aims to develop a deeper understanding of Australia’s pre-1788 history, transforming the scale and scope of history through the analysis of Australia’s epic Indigenous narratives alongside relevant new scientific evidence to create new approaches to the history of Greater Australia/Sahul. He completed his PhD in History at the University of Melbourne.

Fiannuala Morgan is a PhD student at The Australian National University and a Librarian at The National Library of Australia. Her current research involves the application of digital mapping software in the analysis of 19th century Australian fiction. Her recent publications include the Cambridge Element Aboriginal Writers and Popular Fiction: The Literature of Anita Heiss (2021) and the edited collection Black Thursday and Other Lost Australian Bushfire Stories (2021).

Emma Thomas is Laureate Postdoctoral Fellow at the Laureate Centre for History & Population at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She is a historian of gender, labour, and colonialism who focuses on transnational histories of Oceania and Europe. She earned her PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2019, and was the 2020 recipient of the Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize, awarded by the Friends of the German Historical Institute, Washington DC. Her current book manuscript, Contested Labors: New Guinean Women and the German Colonial Indenture, analyses intersections of gender and sexuality, labour regimes, demographic crisis, and colonial violence in Papua New Guinea under German rule. She is also currently collaborating with Associate Professor Emma Christopher (UNSW) on the development of an interactive, web-based database that will detail and map transportations of Pacific Islander labourers across colonial Oceania. Dr Thomas will be discussing her project ‘Mapping Histories of “Blackbirding” and the “Pacific Labour Trade”’.

Bill Pascoe is a Digital Humanities specialist and is currently the System Architect on Time Layered Cultural Map, a national digital humanities mapping infrastructure project. He has worked with the Centre For 21st Century Humanities and the Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing at the University of Newcastle, Australia (Awabakal). He has been a leader and contributor in innovative and high impact Digital Humanities and eResearch projects, including the Colonial Frontier Massacres project, the EMWRN archive, ELDTA endangered languages, IA stylometry software, Virtual Biobank 3D medical image processing and eWater. He has software development experience across finance, water engineering, science, health and humanities and an education in English, creative writing, semiotics and philosophy.

Deep Conversations: History, Environment, Science is a partnership of the Research Centre for Deep History and Centre for Environmental History. The seminar series aims to bring together scholars from diverse disciplines to discuss questions of history, science and the environment, and how they shed light on the global challenges we face today.

Image by Sigmund via Unsplash