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Professor Paula Hamilton


Paula Hamilton teaches in the public history program and has supervised many post-graduate research students in history and other areas of the Faculty. During her career she has taken an active role in building the post-graduate and research culture within the Faculty and was Research Director 2000-2001. She is now a member of the University Research Management Committee and has taken up a University readership for the 2002-4 period. She has conducted consultancies and research with museums, including Powerhouse, Australian Museum and National Museum of Australia. She has strong links with the oral history community, indicative of her long-term interest in cultural memory, particularly collective remembering through oral narratives. She has extensive experience interviewing working women, migrants, journalists and women survivors of disaster. With Paul Ashton she edits 'Public History Review' and also 'Locality: a community history journal', both of which act as a link between the academe and the wider community. Paula is also Co-Director of the Australian Centre for Public History (with Paul Ashton), and, a member of the Key University Centre in Communication and Culture, Transforming Cultures http://transforming.cultures.uts.edu.au. She remains committed to facilitating historical work for wider audiences and promoting links between the academe and the public sphere.


Australian Centre for Public History
Centre for Trans/forming Cultures

Adjunct Professor, ADMIN Faculty Administration
Core Member, CPCE - Centre for Creative Practices and the Cultural Economy
+61 2 9514 2787

Research Interests

Cultural memory, autobiography and narrative; Australian history, especially popular culture and social history; Histories of media; Historical methodology, especially, oral history, visual representation and material cultures; Feminist history; Historiography.

Current research
Australians and the Past
An ARC-funded Linkage project in which UTS academic staff have conducted a national survey in collaboration with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Tranby Aboriginal College, the Powerhouse Museum and the History Teacher's Association (with Heather Goodall, Paul Ashton, Louella McCarthy and Jane Connors). Currently completing a book with paul Ashton on the survey.

Popular culture and memory in Australia
Completing a book, 'Popular culture and memory in Australia' being considered by UNSW Press. This work explores the role of memory in constituting identities, particularly gendered identities, the ways in which mass media narratives have shaped identities, and, the impact of modernity on Australian culture.

A History of the Australian Heritage Commission
Commissioned work with Paul Ashton and Jennifer Cornwall.

Oral History and Public Memory
Edited book for Pennsylvania Museum and Heritage Commission (with Linda Shopes).

Memorials in Australia post-1945
ARC Grant application (with Paul Ashton).

Can supervise: Yes


Ashton, P., Hamilton, P.I. & Searby, R.E. 2012, Places of the Heart: Memorials in Australia, 1st, Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne.
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This book charts the transformation of Australian ways of mourning over the last 40 years through a study of memorials. It explores the reasons memorials are set up and how they are used by those who visit them. Changes to these practices, as well as the forms of memorials, reflect important shifts in the nature of public remembering and people's relationship to the past.
Ashton, P. & Hamilton, P.I. 2010, History at the Crossroads: Australians and the Past, 1, Halstead Press, Sydney, Australia.
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This book is the outcome of several year's engagement with aspects of public history in Australia. It weaves together the results of a number of Australian Research Council research project which we have undertaken including a national project on historical understanding called âAustralians and the Pastâ and a study of memorials and memorialisation in Australia, âPlaces of the Heartâ. It also draws on reflections about our work with a range of community groups, museums and heritage agencies. Over the ten years or so that the book has been in process, there have been many significant shifts in both the history discipline and the field known as public history, both in this country and many others around the world. What began as a defiant intellectual project on âan impossible to categoriseâ area (sociology, history, anthropology) that we knew was essential to understanding the great interest and passion for history in many different forms within the broader population, has now become one of many which examines what is variously referred to as âconsuming historyâ, âusing historyâ, âthe heritage industryâ, âcultural tourismâ and, more theoretically, âhistorical consciousnessâ.
Hamilton, P.I. 2005, Cracking Awaba and other Stories: Sydney's Northern Coastal Communities and Mosman during the Depression, Shoroc Council Libraries, Sydney.
This is a history book based on primary research of 72 oral histories and the historical photographs from the local studies collections about living in various Sydney suburban areas during the 1930s.


Hamilton, P.I. 2014, 'Generational Change and Conflicted Memories of World War II in Australia' in Michael Boss (ed), Conflicted Pasts and National Identities, Aarhus University Press, Denmark, pp. 69-83.
Hamilton, P. 2014, 'Contested memories of the Pacific War in Australia' in The Pacific War: Aftermaths, Remembrance and Culture, pp. 50-66.
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Hamilton, P.I. 2013, 'Remembering the Suburban Sensory Landscape in Balmain' in Hamilton, P. & Ashton, P. (eds), Locating Suburbia: memory, place, creativity, UTSePress, Sydney, pp. 18-31.
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explores the gentrification process in 1950-1970s Balmain and clash of cultures through the senses, particularly smell and sound. Based on oral history interviews
Hamilton, P.I. & Ashton, P. 2013, 'Introduction: The Politics and Passions of the Suburban Oasis' in Hamilton, P. & Ashton, P. (eds), Locating Suburbia: memory, place, creativity, UTSePress, Sydney, pp. 1-5.
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outlines osme of the literature and current debates about how suburbs are viewed and imagined
Darian-Smith, K. & Hamilton, P.I. 2012, 'Part of the Family: Australian Histories of Television, Migration and Memory' in Darian-Smith, K. & Turnbull, S. (eds), Remembering Television: Histories, Technologies, Memories, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, pp. 30-51.
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Television is both a ubiquitous and powerful presence in everyday life. The content of its programs have deeply penetrated our cultural imaginations, and program scheduling and viewing practices serve to structure our daily routines and behaviours. The intimacy of television as a domestic medium situates it within the mundane and subliminal "ordinariness" of our lives, in ways that may be perceived to be outside the reaim of national history and historical processes. Yet, from its technologies to its programming production and audience reception, television is an historical phenomenon, and the complexities of television culture can only be understood within their historical moment. This history of television is relatively short in Australia. It is usually dated from 1956, with the first broadcasts in Sydney and Melbourne-although access to television was delayed for those living elsewhere. The introduction of television, in itself an historical moment, was then followed by its "domestication" into the home and family.
Hamilton, P.I. 2011, 'The Proust Effect: Oral History and the Senses' in Ritchie, D.A. (ed), The Oxford Handbook of Oral History, Oxford University Press, New York, USA, pp. 219-232.
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Chapter on new field of utilising the sensory landscape in oral history interviews, especially in relaiton to urban sites.
Hamilton, P.I. 2010, 'A Long War: Public Memory and the Popular Media' in Radstone, S. & Schwarz, B. (eds), Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates, Fordham University Press, USA, pp. 299-311.
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One of the most difficult theoretical issues confronting the study of memory has been the conceptual problem of group memory and how memories carried by individuals become part of a larger social dynamic. While there has been much debate about descrip6ve, adjectival terms such as "collective," «cultural," "popular," and "social" memory, terms that are often invoked with noticeable imprecision, less consideration has been given to questions of what social relations make memory public or how we understand the very "publicness" of memory. When we think of the public, or a public, it is out there, encompassing the notion of being on view in front of others, which usually also has a spatial component, a place of meeting others, of memory shared.
Ashton, P. & Hamilton, P.I. 2009, ''Unfinished Business': Public History in a Postcolonial Nation' in Walkowitz, D. & Knauer, L. (eds), Contested Histories in Public Space: Memory, Race, and Nation, Duke University Press, Durham and London, pp. 71-98.
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An examination of Public History in Australia from the nineteenth century in terms of memory, race and nationalism drawing on museums, memorials, rituals, celebrations and the 'history wars'.
Hamilton, P.I. 2003, 'Sale of the Century? Memory and historical consciousness in Australia' in Hodgkin, K. & Radstone, S. (eds), Contested Pasts: The politics of memory, Routledge, London, UK, pp. 136-152.
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Hamilton, P.I. 2003, 'Memory studies and cultural history' in Teo, H.M. & White, R. (eds), Cultural History in Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, Sydney, Australia, pp. 81-97.
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Hamilton, P.I. 1999, 'Journalists, Gender and Workplace Culture, 1900-1940' in Curthoys, A. & Schultz, J. (eds), Print Journalism, Politics and Popular Culture, University of Queensland Press.
Hamilton, P.I. 1994, 'The Knife Edge: debates about Memory and History' in Darian-Smith, K. & Hamilton, P. (eds), Memory and History in Twentieth Century Australia, Oxford University Press.
Hamilton, P.I. 1993, 'Domestic Dilemmas: Representation of Servants and Employers in the Popular Press' in Magarey, S., Rowley, S. & Sheridan, S. (eds), Debutante Nation: Feminism Rewrites History and Culture, Allen & Unwin.

Journal articles

Hamilton, P. & Spongberg, M. 2016, 'Twenty Years On: feminist histories and digital media', Women's History Review, pp. 1-7.
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Darian-Smith, K. & Hamilton, P.I. 2013, 'Memory and history in twenty-first century Australia: A survey of the field', Memory Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 370-383.
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This essay surveys the fields of oral history and memory studies in Australia since the publication of the landmark volume Memory and History in Twentieth-Century Australia in 1994. It argues that the practice of oral history has been central to memory studies in Australia, and explores key texts relating to the memory and commemoration of war, colonialism, Indigenous histories, trauma and witnessing in Australian society.
Hamilton, P.I. 2011, 'Material Memories and the Australian Memorial Imagination', Melbourne Historical Journal, vol. 39, no. 2011, pp. 11-23.
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This essay explores the transformation of Australian ways of mourning over the last forty years through memorials-one particular means by which those who live on commemorate the dead. Here I argue that changes to the form, purpose, and use of memorials reflect important shifts in the nature of public remembering and people's relationship to the past since the 1960s. These changes to public remembering have taken place within the framework of a broader 'culture of commemoration' emerging in many western societies, what Erika Doss has succinctly called 'memorial mania'.' Through this 'culture of commemoration', many seek a connection with the past that strengthens the link between the personal, often intimate process, of remembering the dead and the public nature of mourning rituals or memorials.
Hamilton, P.I. 2009, 'Remembering Changi: Public memory and the popular media', Media International Australia, vol. 131, pp. 136-146.
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Media arenas are increasingly the place where most of our negotiation over the meaning of the past is carried out. Indeed, many commentators argue that television plays a particularly central role in the shaping of social memory. This paper seeks to examine how the various forms of media are changing the relationship between personal (and often silent) memories and public ones by asking what happens when personal memories of experience, which are not passed on within families - or only in a limited way - finally become public. I argue here that television and the internet, as increasingly interdependent cultural forms, have an important role in mediating between the personal experience and the public memory of events, as well as between genders and generations. As a case study, I examine the audience response to the television series Changi, aired on the ABC in 2001, using comments posted on the Changi guestbook internet forum. From this example, I examine how technologies of popular culture - especially new digital media - interact to create new 'publics', thus both increasing democratisation and access for individuals and also encompassing much larger collectives than in former times.
Ashton, P. & Hamilton, P.I. 2008, 'Places of the Heart: Memorials, Public History and the State in Australia Since 1960', Public History Review, vol. 15, pp. 1-29.
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Memorials as a form of public history allow us to chart the complex interactions and negotiations between officially endorsed historical narratives, public memorials, privately sponsored memorials in public spaces and new histories. As Ludmilla Jordanova reminds us, âthe state⦠lies at the heart of public historyâ. And this is evident in the public process of memorialisation. At one level, the state endorses certain narratives within which communities and organisations need to operate if they are to be officially part of the national story and its regional and local variants. Ultimate endorsement for memorials includes listings on heritage registers. Controls over the erection of memorials vary from official policies to process for the issue of permits for their construction in public places or their removal. The state, however, is not monolithic. Permissible pasts evolve over time given shifts in power and social and cultural change. This involves both âretrospective commemorationâ and âparticipatory memorialisationâ. The presence and power of the past in peoplesâ lives, too, means in practice that memorial landscapes will reflect, in truly democratic societies, the values, experiences and dominant concerns of its citizens.
Ashton, P. & Hamilton, P.I. 2007, 'Facing facts? History wars in Australian high schools', Open to Interpretation, vol. 91, pp. 45-59.
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On 25 January 2006, on the eve of Australia Day--the day when the renegotiation of history in Australia is at its most symbolic and fraught--Prime Minister John Howard addressed the National Press Gallery. Halfway through his speech, Howard announced that the history wars, in which he had been prominent from time to time since 1996, were over. (1) The 'divisive, phoney debate about national identity', he reported, 'has been finally laid to rest'. (2) Fewer Australians, Howard contended, were now 'ashamed of Australia's past' than had been the case a decade earlier. In an unusually ironical tone, he went only a little way towards acknowledging the damage inflicted on Aboriginal
Hamilton, P.I. 2005, 'The Oral Historian as Memorist', The Oral History Review, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 11-18.
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This paper explores some issues in relation to oral history and memory that emerge in Alessandro Portelli's The Order Has Been Carried Out. I examine the contemporary role of the oral historian, the relationship between the present and the past in memory work, and make some comments about how we might articulate the field of oral history with memory studies more closely for the enrichment of both.
Hamilton, P.I. & Higman, B. 2003, 'Servants of empire: The British training of domestics for Australia, 1926-31', Social History, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 67-82.
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Hamilton, P.I. & Ashton, P. 2003, 'At Home with the Past: Background and Initial Findings from the National Survey', Australian Cultural History, vol. 22, pp. 5-30.
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Ashton, P. & Hamilton, P.I. 2001, 'On Not Belonging: Memorials and Memory in sydney', Public History review, vol. 9, pp. 23-36.
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Hamilton, P.I. 2000, 'Blood Money? Race and Nation in Australian Public History', Radical History Review, vol. 76, no. 76, pp. 188-207.
survey article on public history in Australia and role of indigenous people as both participants and subjects of the history.
Ashton, P., Connors, J., Goodall, H., Hamilton, P.I. & McCarthy, L. 2000, 'Australians and the Past at the University of Technology, Sydney', Public History Review, vol. 15, pp. 157-167.
Hamilton, P.I. 1999, 'Memory Remains: Ferry Disaster, Sydney, 1938', History Workshop Journal, no. 47.
Hamilton, P.I., Thomson, A. & Frisch, M. 1994, 'The Memory and History Debates: Some International Perspectives', The Journal of the Oral History Society (Britain), vol. 22, no. 2.
Special 25th anniversary issue of the Journal of the Oral History Society (Britain). This article was translated into Spanish and reprinted in Usos & Abusos da Historia Oral, ed by Marieta de Moraes Ferreira & Janaina Amado, Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Brasil, 1996.

Non traditional outputs

Ashton, P. & Hamilton, P.I., 'Sydney Italian Fruit Shops', Customs House, Sydney.
This exhibition explores the history and meanings of Italian fruit shops in Sydney from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. For many Sydneysiders, the Italian Fruit shop is a retail icon that is part of a collective memory. For most of Sydneyâs large Italian population â over 44,500 Sydney residents were born in Italy â the fruit shop has played a vital role in the lives of relatives or friends. But the significance of the Italian fruit shop extends well beyond the Italian community. These shops helped to change Australian eating habits and had a tangible impact on the cultural landscape of many streets and suburbs. They were also the precursor of the present day green grocer and the inspiration for âretroâ fit outs of some contemporary fruit and vegetable shops. The romanticised image of the Italian fruiterer, complete with white apron, offering friendly customer service, has endured. Photographs of smiling fruiterer families, eager to present a picture of respectability, family unity and migrant success, belie the eighteen-hour days, the physical labour and financial risks and the familial and social sacrifices that had to be made for their âshop full of dreamsâ to succeed. This exhibition runs from 23 May to 30 September.