Winners of 2020 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 (InASA).

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 2020 awards comprised:

Hon Assoc Prof Anne Brewster (UNSW)

Prof Robert Reynolds (Macquarie University)

Dr Xu Daozhi (Macquarie University)

The prize committee was impressed with the outstanding quality of scholarship and originality of articles across all four issues of JAS in 2020. The judges praised the journal 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)

Clint Bracknell ‘Rebuilding as Research: Noongar Song, Language and Ways of Knowing’ (44.2)

In this article Clint Bracknell outlines his participant research with the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Inc, in south-west Western Australia, where he has undertaken collaborative work with community members, re-patriating archival records of Noongar singing and thereby building contemporary repertoire. He outlines how his Community-based research on the revitalisation of Noongar language and song builds on a tradition of revitalization movements which began in the 1980s. Bracknell makes an important contribution to renovating the field of Indigenous studies by developing a methodology that draws on a spectrum of academic disciplines (for example ethnomusicology and linguistics) in combination with Community protocols and priorities. Significantly, he draws attention to the increasing non-Indigenous interest in and demand for Indigenous knowledges and cultural products and describes the impact of this demand on Indigenous researchers. The pressure to produce research outcomes and to share cultural insights with non-Indigenous audiences often conflicts with the sustainability of Indigenous cultures.  In pointing out the lack of space and time for communities to “claim, consolidate and enhance our heritage and knowledge amongst ourselves” he alerts us to Indigenous imperatives and invites non-Indigenous scholars in this field and beyond to reassess their ways of traversing it.

John Barrett Award: Highly Commended (open category)

Kim Kemmis, ‘Man-Poodles in the Dress Circle: Competing Masculinities in Colonial Melbourne’ (44.1)

In this beautifully written article, historian Kim Kemmis delves into the reporting of a disturbance by a group of men in the audience of the Melbourne Theatre Royal in 1865. From this one fracas, Kemmis delicately reconstructs the emergence of competing masculinities in mid-19th century Melbourne by the deft deployment of contemporary gender theory and rich archival research. In the process, Kemmis depicts a distinctive mode of 19th century queerness with resonances in the present.

John Barrett Award: Postgraduate Category

Hannah Viney, ‘“Women are born diplomats”: Women, Politics and the Cold War in the Australian Women’s Weekly, 1950–1959’ (44.3)

This meticulous research presents an original and intriguing account of the Australian Women’s Weekly which nurtured women’s political interests in a day-to-day setting during the 1950s. Hannah Viney captures the tactics of the Weekly to interweave the feminine with the Cold War politics and to make use of conservative feminine narratives to venture beyond women’s conventional gendered roles at that time. The nuanced and thorough analysis illuminates the formation of feminised political consciousness in the postwar Australia.

Congratulations to the winners!

Featured image: George Edmund Butler, Butte de Polygon, 1920, oil on canvas. Reproduced by permission from Archives New Zealand.

The upcoming issue of JAS (June, 2021)