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AHR Issue 44, March 2008
Welcome to our first issue as editors of Australian Humanities Review, a special themed issue on The idea of South: Australia's global positioning.
The AHR web address has changed to http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org: please update your links and bookmarks. Also, please note that the entire AHR archive is available from the new site.
We intend to retain the format familiar to AHR readers: a number of target essays, often linked by a common theme; book reviews; the Eco-Humanities Corner, and e-muse. However, in the coming months we will be redesigning some aspects of the website. Feel free to send suggestions on how we can improve your experience of reading AHR to email@example.com.
AHR was launched by Cassandra Pybus in June 1996, a few months after John Howard's election as Australian prime minister. Under the editorship of Elizabeth McMahon from 1997, AHR maintained throughout the 11 years of the Howard government a commitment to publishing informed critical debate on contested issues facing our community, reflecting principles of intellectual freedom and a commitment to social justice, in particular for Australia's Indigenous peoples. In March 2008, with the Rudd government newly in office, AHR will continue to provide a forum for open and informed intellectual debate on the full range of issues that confront Australia and the region.
The idea of South: Australia's global positioning
We begin 2008 with a special issue dedicated to exploring the idea of ‘the South' and its role in Australians' perception of their place in the world.
Shino Konishi examines a little-known historical event, when sailors of the 1803 Baudin expedition believed they had encountered the fabled race of giants of the Great South Land.
Kevin Murray uses a number of objects as talismans for rethinking and reorienting the international networks of the global art world, while Stephen Muecke considers the emerging field of Indian Ocean studies and how its scholarly networks reconfigure maps and flows of information and knowledge.
We then present two extracts from sociologist Raewyn Connell's recent book Southern Theory, which explores North/South relations in the global emergence of social science. An extract from Chapter 1 elucidates the role of the Northern metropole in producing the South as an object of sociological study, while Chapter 4 explores the formative role Australian producers have played in the making of the discipline. In ‘The South in Southern Theory', Margaret Jolly responds to Connell's book, considering the role of the ‘Asia-Pacific' and ‘Oceania' in imagined configurations of knowledge and power between Australia and the Pacific.
The ‘Southern' theme continues in Eco Humanities Corner (see below), and also in the book reviews, where Emily Potter reviews Tom Griffiths' recent book on voyaging to Antarctica, while Anne Maxwell considers the shifting locations of global intellectual production in Laurence Simmons' collection on New Zealand's public intellectuals, and Ned Curthoys and Debjani Ganguly's collection on the legacy of Edward Said. David Carter considers Sherman Young's arguments for the digital transformation of book culture, while Paul Gillen reviews Melissa Harper's history of bushwalking in Australia.
Producing our first issue of Australian Humanities Review has been a steep learning curve for us, and it could not have happened without the support of many people. Jesse Reynolds and David Vermont provided invaluable advice and technical assistance. We also wish to thank our editorial board for the quality and timeliness of their refereeing. And the publication of Australian Humanities Review is supported by the School of Humanities at Australian National University, for which we are very grateful.
Finally we wish to thank Elizabeth McMahon for her enormous contribution to Australian intellectual life as editor of Australian Humanities Review for the past ten years. We hope that this and future issues of AHR will continue the work of rethinking humanities debates outside their traditional conceptual and geographical boundaries.
Monique Rooney & Russell Smith, March 2008
The Eco Humanities Corner
How shall we understand our place in the world in this era of climate change and relentless globalisation? Emily Potter and Paul Starr offer an insightful engagement with climate change issues, arguing that now more than ever, as the earth system is changing so rapidly and unpredictably, we need to reorient our relations to place. They pose the prospect of post-national citizens linked by climate, emissions and other factors.
Val Plumwood asks similar questions in the context of globalised consumerism and damage. Her analysis challenges us to consider not only the places where we live and love, but also the shadow places which are disregarded but which make our lives possible. Each of these lively and timely articles challenges us to think about place in terms of connectivities, and thus to consider responsibilities that are both near and distant.
It was with great sadness that we learned shortly before this issue went to press of the death of Val Plumwood at the age of sixty-eight. An obituary tribute follows her essay.
Deborah Rose, March 2008