Winners of 2019 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 (including a subscription to the Journal of Australian Studies).

A prize committee established by the International Australian Studies Association (InASA) executive makes the award each year. The prize committee for the 2019 awards comprised:

A/Prof Anne Collett (University of Wollongong)

Dr Sukhmani Khorana (Western Sydney University)

Dr Andonis Piperoglou (Griffith University)

The prize committee was impressed with the outstanding quality of scholarship and originality of articles across all four issues. The judges all come from different fields of research and praised the Journal of Australian Studies for its continuing excellence, with a breadth of wonderful articles that reflect the strength of Australian Studies.

InASA expresses its gratitude to the judges for their hard work.

John Barrett Award (open category)

Gary Osmond and Matthew Klugman, ‘A Forgotten Picture: Race, Photographs and Cathy Freeman at the Northcote Koori Mural’ (43.2)

While some visual images take on iconic (national) status, others have low impact, are forgotten or ‘disappeared’. This article investigates possible reasons for the forgetting of a powerful image of Cathy Freeman running beneath Northcote’s Koori Mural of Aboriginal Elders in chains. Gary Osmond and Matthew Klugman do a superb job of highlighting the complex network of social, political and aesthetic relations that might give us pause to rethink what we see, how we see it and who/what determines that seeing. The article brings Indigenous and settler relations, feminism and racial politics, a brutal colonial past and contemporary Aboriginal radicalism into relation through a politically loaded street mural, a carefully framed photograph by Wayne Ludbey, the extraordinary career and celebrity of Cathy Freeman, fervent Australian nationalism, and the politics of the Australian media. Providing us with a refreshing take on one of Australia’s most lauded sportswomen, the article masterfully uses a single but neglected photograph to undo ‘a history of forgetting’ that so often clouds our public memory. It is an accomplished piece of writing, thinking and research that encourages us to look back with new eyes. This is what the best scholarship in Australian studies should do.

John Barrett Award: Highly Commended (open category)

Rebecca Olive, ‘The Trouble with Newcomers: Women, Localism and the Politics of Surfing’ (43.1)

 This is an engaging piece of scholarship that skilfully weaves together the many strands of a large body of research on surfing, gender, sexuality, race, colonialism, localism and the ‘ethics of care’ to consider the tensions of belonging – rights and rites of local spaces – with a particular focus on ‘women’s lived experience of localism’. The data drawn from popular media, scholarly material, personal experience and oral interview is presented in engaging and persuasive form all the while maintaining a coherent flow-through of argument. Rebecca Olive’s article is exemplar of how such a complexity of data, theory and scholarship can be presented with clarity and personality.

John Barrett Award: Postgraduate Category

Marian Lorrison, ‘Adulterous Agency and the Fragile Feminine Reputation in the Colonial Divorce Court’ (43.3)

Marian Lorrison presents a fascinating view of the colonial period, attitudes towards and expectations of women, the unequal impact of the law, and the remarkable possibility of women’s agency in unexpected places. The article makes expert use of an under-examined archive to consider how women and women’s agency might have been and continue to be underestimated. It is a clever take on female agency gained through the transgressive act of adultery, but one that considers the range of powerful factors that work against even the most persistent attempts to gain personal autonomy and gender equality. Lorrison’s focus on the agency of a single colonial case encourages connection to a much larger story/literature on gender and agency.

Congratulations to the winners!