Tamson Pietsch is Senior Lecturer in Social & Political Sciences and Director of the Australian Centre for Public History at UTS where she also holds an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship.
Tamson's research focuses on the history of ideas and the global politics of knowledge and empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. Tamson is the author of Empire of Scholars: universities networks and the British academic world, 1850-1939 (Manchester, 2013) and the co-editor of The Transnational Politics of Higher Education (Routledge, 2016). She is currently writing a book about the 1926 world-cruise of the "Floating University" as well as leading a project on expertise in interwar Australia.
Tamson received her DPhil from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar and then held a Junior Research Fellowship at New College and lectureship at Corpus Christi College. Prior to coming to UTS, Tamson was ARC DECRA Fellow at the University of Sydney and Lecturer in Imperial and Colonial History at Brunel University, London.
Can supervise: YES
- History of ideas, history of science
- British & Imperial history
- Global, transnational & international history
- History of universities
- Martime history
- British history and the history of empire
- Global & transnational history
- Historiography, methods and theory
- History of ideas
- History of universities
Drawing on extensive archival research conducted in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, this book remaps the intellectual geographies of Britain and its empire.
© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to: introduce the topic of the relationship between universities and the First World War historiographically; put university expertise and knowledge at the centre of studies of the First World War; and explain how an examination of university expertise and war reveals a continuity of intellectual and scientific activity from war to peace. Design/methodology/approach: Placing the papers in the special issue of HER on universities and war in the context of a broader historiography of the First World War and its aftermath. Findings: The interconnections between university expertise and the First World War is a neglected field, yet its examination enriches the current historiography and prompts us to see the war not simply in terms of guns and battles but also how the battlefield extended university expertise with long-lasting implications into the 1920s and 1930s. Originality/value: The paper explores how universities and their expertise – e.g. medical, artistic, philosophical – were mobilised in the First World War and the following peace.
This article considers the different ways British history has been located and defined in the last forty years, highlighting in particular the shifting and porous nature of its borders. The article reflects on the disinclination of many contributors in this issue to adopt the label of 'British historian'. It points out that, despite the emergence of transnational history, those historians working in Australia on British sources continue to find themselves pulled between the national imperatives of multiple countries. But both transnational and national historical approaches might be seen as attempts to make sense of human lives and institutions made within systems that work by at once connecting and separating localities. The article concludes by arguing that historians working on British sources in Australia need to claim both labels of 'British' and 'Antipodean'. They need to situate themselves both within the supply chains of trade, labour and governance, family, expertise and belief that stretched across space, and within the various politics that sought to locate and contain them in different locations.
This article considers the bodily experience of being at sea in the age of sail. Using shipboard
diaries written by eight passengers during the high period of free migration to the Australasian
colonies, it argues that oceanic journeys disrupted and upended the land-based bodily practices
being fashioned in nineteenth-century Britain. At sea, these mechanisms of bodily comportment
were rendered fragile and unstable, leaving middle- and working-class bodies alike vulnerable
and open to refashioning and reformation. In so doing, it points to the need for scholars to
bring together land- and sea-based histories and to historicize and particularize oceanic spaces.
© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to bring together the history of war, the universities and the professions. It examines the case of dentistry in New South Wales, detailing its divided pre-war politics, the role of the university, the formation and work of the Dental Corps during the First World War, and the process of professionalization in the 1920s. Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws on documentary and archival sources including those of the University of Sydney, contemporary newspapers, annual reports and publication of various dental associations, and on secondary sources. Findings: The paper argues that both the war and the university were central to the professionalization of dentistry in New South Wales. The war transformed the expertise of dentists, shifted their social status and cemented their relationship with the university. Originality/value: This study is the first to examine dentistry in the context of the histories of war, universities and professionalization. It highlights the need to re-evaluate the changing place of the professions in interwar Australia in the light both of the First World War and of the university's involvement in it.
Pietsch, T. 2016, '"Only Connect": Learned Societies in Nineteenth-Century Britain', AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, vol. 121, no. 5, pp. 1744-1745.
This article rethinks the concept of the "British World" by paying close attention to the voices of those who attended the 1903 Allied Colonial Universities Conference. They identified not one, but three different kinds of British world space. Mapped, respectively, by ideas and emotions, by networks and exchange, and by the specific sites of empire, this article suggests that, in the light of criticisms the British World concept has faced, and in the context of recent scholarship on the social and material production of space, this tripartite approach might offer a useful framework for British and imperial historians interested in the history of the global. © 2013 The North American Conference on British Studies.
This article examines academic connections between Australian and Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It contends that, beginning in the 1880s, Australian universities looked for ways to make new sorts of connection with British scholarship. They established travelling scholarship schemes, leave of absence programmes and appointments practices designed to forge ties that bound academics in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide with their colleagues in the United Kingdom.
Pietsch, T. 2012, 'Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Science', VICTORIAN STUDIES, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 117-119.
Pietsch, T 2011, 'Many rhodes: Travelling scholarships and imperial citizenship in the british academic world, 1880-1940', History of Education, vol. 40, no. 6, pp. 723-739.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Since its foundation in 1901, the Rhodes Scholarships scheme has been held up as the archetype of a programme designed to foster imperial citizens. However, though impressive in scale, Cecil Rhodes's foundation was not the first to bring colonial students to Britain. Over the course of the previous half-century, governments, universities and individuals in the settler colonies had been establishing travelling scholarships for this purpose. In fact by the end of the nineteenth century the travelling scholarship had become an important part of settler universities' educational visions. It served as a crucial mechanism by which they sought to claim their citizenship of what they saw as the expansive British academic world. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
It is the contention of this article that historians of the nineteenth century need to think about notions of empire, nation, and race in the context of the social production of space. More specifically, it posits that the moving space of the steamship functioned as a particularly important site in which travellers reworked ideas about themselves and their worlds. Supporting this contention the article pays close attention to the journeys of J. T. Wilson, a young Scottish medical student who between 1884 and 1887 made three voyages to China and one to Australia. For it was in the space of the ship, literally moving along the routes of global trade, that Wilson forged a particular kind of British identity that collapsed the spaces of empire, elided differences among Britons and extended the boundaries of the British nation. Copyright © London School of Economics and Political Science 2010.
At the Allied Colonial Universities Conference, held in London in 1903, delegates from across the universities of Britain's settler empire professed the existence of a British academic community, defined not by location, but by shared culture, shared values and shared ethnicity. This article examines the extent to which these claims reflected actual patterns of academic mobility in the settler empire between 1850 and 1940. By mapping the careers of the 350 professors who served at the Universities of Sydney, Toronto, and Manchester during this period, it concludes that, between 1900 and 1930 especially, there existed a distinctly British academic world within which scholars moved frequently along different migratory axes. Though not as united, extensive and uncomplicated as that in which the 1903 Conference delegates believed, this world nonetheless shared more in common with their vision of an expansive British academic community than it did with the image of an unconnected and isolated periphery that has characterised portrayals by subsequent university historians. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Pietsch, T. 2017, 'Geographies of Selection: Academic Appointments in the British Academic World, 1850-1939' in Jöns, H., Meusburger, P. & Heffernan, M. (eds), Mobilities of Knowledge, Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 157-183.
Chou, M.-.H., Kamola, I. & Pietsch, T. 2016, 'Introduction: the transnational politics of higher education' in Chou, M.-.H., Kamola, I. & Pietsch, T. (eds), Transnational Politics of Higher Education: Contesting theGlobal/Transforming the Local, Routledge, London, pp. 1-20.
Pietsch, T 2016, 'Between the local and the universal: Academic worlds and the long history of the university' in Chou, M-H, Kamola, I & Pietsch, T (eds), Transnational Politics of Higher Education: Contesting theGlobal/Transforming the Local, Routledge, London, pp. 21-41.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Pietsch, T. 2014, 'Imperium et Libertas: G.C. Henderson and 'Colonial Historical Research' in Prest, W. (ed), Pasts Present: History at Australia's third university, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, pp. 77-85.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
In 1907 J.M. Dent & Co, London, in partnership with E.P. Dutton & Co,
New York, published a book by the Professor of History at the University of
Adelaide: G.C. Henderson's Sir George Grey: Pioneer of Empire in Southern
Lands. The volume was well received, both in Australia and in Britain. The
Academy called it 'an able piece of work, clear, discriminating, judicial' and
Frederick Watson, later to be editor of Historical Records of Australia, sung its
praises.1 'Nearly all the London papers & reviews [spoke] very favourably of
the work', reported Henderson in December 1908 to the Australian Prime
Minister, Alfred Deakin, who had written with his own compliments.2 An
'Oxford scholar, holding a chair in an Australian university', Henderson
possessed an outlook that, according to The Academy, was 'Imperial rather
than Colonial'.3 His position in a colonial university did not – or so the reviewer
believed – set him apart from his metropolitan colleagues: 'he delivers himself
of no shibboleths', concluded the article.4
This chapter argues that Henderson's book, and the outlook and experiences
that informed both it and his work at the University of Adelaide, need to
be understood in terms of the social and institutional contexts that linked
Australia and Britain at the turn of the century. Moving within the networks of
the British academic world, Henderson's travels and the landscapes of affection
and connection born of them, not only shaped the way he approached his work,
but his experience of undertaking it in turn also shaped his vision for 'colonial
historical research' at Adelaide.5
Born in 1870 near Newcastle in New South
Pietsch, T 2013, 'Out of Empire: The Universities' Bureau and the Congresses of the Universities of the British Empire, 1913-1939' in Schreuder, D (ed), Universities for a 'New World': A Commonwealth of Knowledgeand Skills, 1913-2013, SAGE Publications Ltd, London, pp. 11-26.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Pietsch, T 2012, ''Mending a broken world': The Universities and the Nation, 1918-36' in Beers, L & Thomas, G (eds), Brave New World: Imperial and Democratic Nation-building in Britain between the Wars, Institute of Historical Research, London, pp. 189-208.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
On 4 July 1921, the chancellors and rectors of the universities of the United
Kingdom, together with delegates from their sister institutions across the
British empire, sat down to lunch at the Savoy Hotel. They were gathered
in London to attend the second Congress of the Universities of the British
Empire, scheduled to begin the following day in Oxford. Proposing the
toast on behalf of the government, the former Conservative prime minister
and foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, reflected on the dramatic events that
had elapsed since the first congress had taken place in 1912. In those nine
years, he suggested,
had been crowded and compressed changes the magnitude of which no man
living – none even of the learned thinkers whom it is my privilege to address
– can as yet estimate. Nobody can tell how great is the change which this
deflection of civilized development has produced in the social elements of the
world; nobody can tell whether it has hurried changes which were in any case
inevitable, or whether it has modified in any profound sense the character
of those changes. The work of estimating its magnitude falls, and must fall
inevitably, to the historian, and to him alone. But we can see quite plainly each
one of us, within our own experience, how the world has been shaken by the
vast catastrophe of the Great War.1
Though not yet sure of its meaning, Balfour and his contemporaries
nonetheless sensed that the world that had emerged fro
Pietsch, T 2011, 'Between the Nation and the World: J.T. Wilson and scientific networks in the early twentieth century' in Bennett, B & Hodge, J (eds), Science and Empire: Knowledge and Networks of Science in the British Empire 1850-1970, Palgrave Macmillan, UK, pp. 140-160.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The categories of 'metropole' and 'colony' have long been fundamental
to scholars' imagination of empire. However in recent years, against the
background of the contemporary consciousness of global forces, migration
and postcolonialism, historians from both Great Britain and from
the countries that previously fell under its influence have started to question
their utility.1 Increasingly, the work of researchers has focused
instead on the complex connections and the multiple and mutually
constitutive practices that occurred between those who lived in and
across imperial spaces. In doing so it has also challenged the partition of
domestic and national from imperial history.
In particular, a number of scholars have argued that one way of understanding
this revisioned empire is to see it as a series of exchanges or networks.
As noted by Joseph Hodge in Chapter 1, a number of distinct, but
overlapping strands of scholarship characterize this new field.2 Influenced
by colonial discourse theory, 'new' imperial historians have come to
see Western culture as not just influenced but itself forged in the perpetually
changing process of interaction between metropole and periphery.
They have explored the ways that 'raced', 'classed' and 'gendered'
imperial 'Others' helped to construct the identities of both colonized and
colonizer, both in Britain and abroad. Catherine Hall's work has been
particularly influential and studies by Paul Gilroy, Mrinalini Sinha and
Antoinette Burton among others have been guided by similar aims.3 British
history, these historians argue, 'has to be transnational': challenging the
binary of imperial and national histories 'and critically scrutinising the
ways in which it has functioned as a way of normalising power relations
and erasing our dependence on and exploitation of others'.
Pietsch, T. & Loy-Wilson, S. 2016, 'Shanghai Princess', Earshot, ABC Radio National.
Pietsch, T 2013, De-territorialising knowledge: strategies in the universities of the British settler empire in the 1880s, Universities 2030: Learning from the past to anticipate the future, pp. 12-14.
Pietsch, T. 2016, 'On institutions: Why we (still) need them', pp. 117-128.