The John Barrett Award for Australian Studies

Dr John Barrett (1931-1997) established this award by way of a bequest to La Trobe University in 1987. Dr John Barrett was a lecturer and reader at La Trobe University from 1969 until his retirement in 1990. His research specialisation was 20th century Australian history, particularly national involvement in the world wars. Dr Barrett was a member of the Journal of Australian Studies editorial board from 1979-1990.

The John Barrett Award for Australian Studies is awarded annually for the best written article published by the Journal of Australian Studies (JAS). The award is administered by the International Australian Studies Association.

Two prizes are awarded each year:

  • the best article by a scholar (open)
  • the best article by a scholar (post-graduate).

The award comprises a cash prize of AUD$500 plus a two year membership to InASA  that includes a subscription to the Journal of Australian Studies.


The prize committee for 2018 awards comprised:

  • Assistant Professor Zuzanna Kruk-Buchowska (Adam Mickiewicz University)
  • Professor Lyndall Ryan (University of Newcastle)
  • Emeritus Professor David Carter (University of Queensland)


Open Category Award Winner
Jan Cooper, “In the Beginning Were Words: Aboriginal People and the Franchise,” Journal of Australian Studies vol. 42, no. 4, 2018.

The article offers an enlightening explanation of when Aboriginal people gained the right to vote in New South Wales and Commonwealth elections in the twentieth century. The author addresses an extremely important issue that speaks to the whole of Australia. She manages to present the intricate and complex history of Aboriginal people’s right to vote in a way that is both impeccably scholarly and at the same time legible to a wide range of audiences. In the process, she reveals how complex the status of Aboriginal people has been since 1901. This extremely well-researched article engages with a broad array of sources and resists easy ideological explanations. It has consequences that go beyond the immediate NSW context and stands as a demand for similar research in other parts of Australia, which makes it a worthy recipient of the 2018 Barrett Prize. It is hoped that the award will help bring this important piece to the attention of scholars in the interdisciplinary fields of Australian Studies as well as the wider public in Australia.

Open Category Highly Commended
Guest editors Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain and Kathleen McPhillips were highly commended for the Special Issue on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Journal of Australian Studies 42, no. 3, 2018.

The articles included in this special issue comprise a comprehensive analysis of both the work of the Royal Commission and its social, psychological, legal and discursive impact. They reveal not only the complexity of the matters that the Royal Commission was dealing with and the difficulties faced by the victims of child sexual abuse, but also the challenges of researching and writing about this sensitive topic. The importance of the problem tackled as well as the inter-disciplinary character of the issue and the quality of the articles comprising it makes the whole issue worthy of commendation.

Postgraduate Category Winner
Sam Dalgarno, “Negotiating the ‘Drunken Aborigine’: Alcohol in Indigenous Autobiography”, Journal of Australian Studies 42, no. 1.

The author offers a refreshing approach to the complex topic of Aboriginal people and alcoholism. He proposes a new methodology, by bringing Aboriginal Australians’ experiences of drinking, as represented in chosen life writing narratives, into dialogue with scholarly research on the subject. The author not only shows an awareness of the broader debates on the topic, but presents a novel approach and offers a productive systematization of his analysis. His work also serves to privilege Indigenous voices in debates about Indigenous people. With these qualities the article is a worthy recipient of the 2018 Barrett Prize in the postgraduate category.


The prize committee for the 2017 awards comprised:

  • Associate Professor Noah Riseman (Australian Catholic University)
  • Associate Professor Anne Collett (University of Wollongong)
  • Dr Shino Konishi (University of Western Australia)

Open Category Award Winner

Austin, Catherine and Farida Fozdar, ‘“Team Australia”: Cartoonists Challenging Exclusionary Nationalist Discourse’, Journal of Australian Studies, Vol.41 No.1 (March) (2017): 65-80.

This article presents a striking and nuanced analysis of political cartoonists’ response to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s contentious and controversial evocation of “Team Australia”, which was intended to harness exclusionary attitudes towards Muslim and other minority Australians. Reading these nationalist discourses through the prism of political cartoons opens up an innovative yet highly accessible analysis of the assumptions underlying Abbott’s discourse, and reveals how such cartoons ‘represent, challenge, and reconstruct’ notions of Australianness. As the authors admirably demonstrate, political cartoons are layered with symbolic meaning, and have the capacity to persuade and shift public opinion. Moreover, as their examples illustrate, satirical cartoons also reflect the particular ‘tenor of Australian humour’. Catherine Austin and Farida Fozdar’s article is imaginatively conceived and displays a sophisticated engagement with diverse scholarship. Its structural soundness, clarity of argument and nuanced reading of political cartoons makes it a worthy recipient of the 2017 Barrett Prize.

 Open Category Award Highly Commended

Brett, André, ‘Australia and the Secretive Exploitation of the Chatham Islands to 1842’, Journal of Australian Studies, Vol.41 No.1 (March) 2017: 96-112.

This fascinating, original research on Australian individuals’ involvement in the exploitation of the Chatham Islands and Moriori people makes an excellent case for stronger links between Australian and New Zealand history. It exemplifies the new historical interest in imperial networks and is a welcomed intervention that highlights the importance of moving beyond national histories. The extensive footnotes attest to the strong critical engagement with scholarly literature.

Postgraduate Category Award

No award or commendation was made in this category


The prize committee for the 2016 awards comprised:

  • Dr Kiera Lindsey (University of South Australia)
  • Professor Kate Darian-Smith (University of Melbourne)
  • Professor Gillian Cowlishaw (University of Sydney)


Open Category Award Winner

Alison Bartlett and Margaret Henderson, “‘What is a Feminist Object?’ Feminist Material Culture and the Making of the Activist Object”, Journal of Australian Studies, 40.2 (June) (2016): 156-171.

Bartlett and Henderson take up an ambitious analytic project. While focussing on defining feminist objects, this is more than an exercise in categorisation. Drawing on Baudrillard, Susan Pearce and others, the essay provides an original contribution to museology in a number of ways. They provide a compelling argument and illustrations of the essentially political nature of feminism and thus the shifting dynamic of collections of feminist objects.”

Postgraduate Category Award Winner

Petra Mossman, “Encountering Feminist Things: Generations, Interpretations and Encountering Adelaide’s ‘scrap heap’”, Journal of Australian Studies, 40.2 (June) (2016): 172-189.

Petra Mosmann’s article offers a rich meditation on relationships between feminist objects, institutional responses and feminist scholarship, highlighting the changing significance of objects over time and generations. Objects that meant a great deal to her activist forebears are unfamiliar to the author who is tasked with constructing a feminist archive from the scattered ‘scrap heap’ of second wave feminist objects — banners, badges, posters and papers. She reflects upon the way that ‘touching history’ can produce an intimate encounter that not only evokes both memory and futurity but also provides opportunity for the ‘re/making of feminist identity’.

Postgraduate Category Highly Commended

Nick Irving’s “Answering the ‘international Call’: Contextualising Sydney Anti-Nuclear and Anti-War Activism in the 1960s”, Journal of Australian Studies, 40.3 (September) 2016: 291-301.

Nick Irving makes a new contribution to scholarship concerned with ‘peace movements’ and anti-war protests in twentieth-century Australia. While it has been previously assumed Australian activist traditions were exclusively influenced by the radical forms of USA New Left responses to the Vietnam War, Irving demonstrates how Australian movements also drew inspiration from non-violent and legal forms of activism from the British Campaigns for Nuclear Disarmament.



Open Category Award Winner

Nathan Garvey, ‘“Folkalising” Convicts: a “Botany Bay” Ballad and its Cultural Contexts’, Journal of Australian Studies, Vol.38 No.1 (March) (2014): 32–51.

This article examines the transnational history of the iconic Australian song ‘Botany Bay’, tracking its purported origins as a convict ballad and its evolution through British print culture to its contemporary Australian folk status. In bringing an impressive depth of original historical research to a topic widely misunderstood both within and outside the academy, Nathan Garvey makes a significant contribution to both the field of Australian Studies and the broader public sphere.

Open Category Highly Commended

Mark McKenna, ‘Tokenism or belated recognition? Welcome to Country and the Emergence of Indigenous Protocol in Australia, 1991–2004’, Journal of Australian Studies, Vol.38 No.4 (December) (2014): 476–89.

Mark McKenna’s article analyses the origins, historical development and historical significance of the Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country ceremonies. In canvassing a range of indigenous and non-indigenous commentaries McKenna addresses the debate over the role and efficacy of this protocol. In addressing a widely recognized topic but one that has received scant critical attention to date, this article furthers public awareness of a significant issue.

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