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Scholars at War

Scholars at War: Australasian Social Scientists, 1939-1945 OPEN ACCESS

Geoffrey Gray
Doug Munro
Christine Winter
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24h3hx
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  • Book Info
    Scholars at War
    Book Description:

    Scholars at War is the first scholarly publication to examine the effect World War II had on the careers of Australasian social scientists. It links a group of scholars through geography, transnational, national and personal scholarly networks, and shared intellectual traditions, explores their use, and contextualizes their experiences and contributions within wider examinations of the role of intellectuals in war. Scholars at War is structured around historical portraits of individual Australasian social scientists. They are not a tight group; rather a cohort of scholars serendipitously involved in and affected by war who share a point of origin. Analyzing practitioners of the social sciences during war brings to the fore specific networks, beliefs and institutions that transcend politically defined spaces. Individual lives help us to make sense of the historical process, helping us illuminate particular events and the larger cultural, social and even political processes of a moment in time. Contributors include Peter Hempenstall, JD Legge, Jock Phillips, John Pomeroy, Cassandra Pybus, David Wetherell, Janet Wilson.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-50-2
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Preface (pp. vii-viii)
    Geoffrey Gray, Doug Munro and Christine Winter
  2. Introduction (pp. 1-28)
    Geoffrey Gray, Doug Munro and Christine Winter

    During the twentieth century, intellectuals were mobilised during times of war. They had a number of choices: conscription in the armed forces that compromised their status as intellectuals; contribution to the war effort by adapting their role as intellectuals to a new set of circumstances and needs of the nation;² or opposition to the war. While there ‘is copious evidence of intellectuals’ desire to contribute to the war effort qua intellectuals, there is not always agreement about the precise role of the intellectual in the wartime order of things’.³ Australian and New Zealand social scientists—our primary focus—were conscripted...

  3. Part I: The Australians
    • Geoffrey Gray and Christine Winter

      The Pacific War created an unprecedented opportunity for Australia’s anthropologists. Before 1939, anthropology in Australia was dominated by Adolphus Peter Elkin, the country’s only professor in the subject, at the University of Sydney, and Chairman of the Australian National Research Council (ANRC)¹ committee for anthropology, which oversaw anthropological research in Australia and Melanesia. Elkin’s department exercised a key role in training administrators and missionaries for Australia’s overseas territories, which reflected the cardinal justification of anthropology in assisting colonial administrations in their control and development of indigenous peoples. The war wrought key changes in his position and in the discipline over...

    • John Pomeroy

      Late in 1941, Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander of the 2nd Australian Infantry Force (AIF) in the Middle East, was back in Australia for consultations when he publicly condemned complacency about the war, accusing his fellow Australians of leading a ‘carnival life’, comparing them with ‘a lot of gazelles grazing in a dell, near the edge of a jungle’.¹ Blamey’s indignation might have been partly coloured by the fact that Melbourne Cup week was in full swing and because proposals to curtail race meetings for the duration of the war met strong opposition in both Sydney and Melbourne. At the same...

    • Cassandra Pybus

      Alf Conlon (1908–61) was a visionary. He would not have known it, but his ideology had similarities with the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Conlon had a belief that the ideas that shape society come from a fairly small elite united by shared intellectual premises, and he sought to use the chaos of the war to establish a new kind of elite in Australia. What Gramsci termed ‘organic intellectuals’ Conlon thought of as his intellectual underground. When the war had begun to pose a direct threat to Australia, he could see that the fallout was going to destroy the credibility...

    • Geoffrey Gray

      Herbert Ian Priestley Hogbin² was born in England in 1904 and emigrated with his family to Australia in February 1914. He attended school in Leeton, in country New South Wales, and then Fort Street High School in Sydney. He attended the University of Sydney, on an education bursary, where he completed, in 1926, a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma in Education.³ Hogbin attended Radcliffe-Brown’s lectures on social anthropology—Anthropology I and Anthropology II—in the newly formed Department of Anthropology.⁴ Faced with a shortage of fieldworkers, Radcliffe-Brown persuaded—as Hogbin remarked later—a scarcely prepared twenty-two-year-old to join an...

    • Geoffrey Gray

      William Edward Hanley Stanner (1905–81) came to anthropology as a mature-age student having first worked as a bank clerk and journalist. He was twenty-three when he attended his first anthropology lectures at the University of Sydney, given by A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, Camilla Wedgwood and Raymond Firth. On completion of his degree—in both economics and anthropology—he was sent to Daly River, NT, where he conducted research for his MA, awarded in May 1934. Returning to Daly River in 1934–35, he spent a brief period at the newly founded Catholic mission at Port Keats (now Wadeye), which became...

    • David Wetherell

      Camilla Wedgwood, anthropologist and educationalist (1901–55), spent much of the Pacific War and its immediate aftermath in Papua New Guinea—the scene of her field research in anthropology in the previous decade. Tough yet in some ways timid, mannish yet maternal, intellectually and physically tireless yet oddly dispersed in her enthusiasms, she seemed a paradoxical personality. Born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK, Camilla Hildegarde Wedgwood was the fifth of seven children of Josiah Clement Wedgwood, later first Baron Wedgwood (1872–1943), a long-time Member of Parliament, and his first wife, Ethel Kate Bowen (d. 1952), daughter of Charles (Lord) Bowen, a...

    • Geoffrey Gray

      A. P. Elkin, who was never slow to seize an opportunity to promote himself and the importance of anthropology, wrote to the Prime Minister, John Curtin, pointing out that problems associated with the administration of ‘native peoples’ during war could be resolved only through anthropological research. These problems, he added, would increase in number and complexity as a result of the war, especially in northern Australia and Australia’s external territories of Papua and New Guinea. Consequently, it was no longer simply a matter of understanding cultural contact, and social organisation, economic life, local customs and religion. It was necessary also...

    • J. D. Legge

      I was still a schoolboy when World War II broke out in September 1939. The son of a Presbyterian Minister in a small town to the north of Warrnambool, Victoria, I did most of my secondary schooling at Warrnambool High. After matriculating there, I went on to Geelong College to complete two years of ‘Leaving Honours’ as a preparation for university studies. From there, I had observed the Munich Agreement, the Anschluss, the Czechoslovakia crisis, the German–Soviet agreement of August 1939, and the German invasion of Poland, all leading up to the final outbreak of war. To an Australian...

  4. Part II: The New Zealanders
    • Doug Munro

      The experiences of the New Zealand scholars reveal a different pattern to those of their Australian counterparts. The depiction in the previous section is one of cohesiveness, because almost all the dramatis personae were involved in some way or another with the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs (DORCA); the Army needed anthropologists. In Australia, and in Britain, the state mobilised scholarship as well as brawn, if the distinction might be allowed. But it was different in New Zealand, which was too small and too far from the theatres of war for scholarship to be pressed into the war effort...

    • Peter Hempenstall

      When one thinks of Derek Freeman (1915–2001) at war, World War II does not come automatically to mind. Rather one remembers the long, drawn-out war of attack, counterattack and exhausting attrition that immersed Freeman through the 1980s over Margaret Mead and her Samoan researches. Freeman’s campaign to demonstrate the shoddiness of Mead’s research and the error in her findings about the nature of adolescent sexual freedom among Samoans stretched from the 1960s to virtually the end of his life in 2001.¹ This is not the place to rehearse the attacks and vilification that Freeman endured from the North American...

    • Doug Munro

      James (Jim) Wightman Davidson (1915–73) died young. He was then the foundation Professor of Pacific History at The Australian National University (ANU). The first step in that direction was an MA degree (with first-class honours) from Victoria University College, in 1938, on the strength of a thesis on Scandinavian settlement in New Zealand. In those days, the royal road to academic success was a second degree from Oxbridge or London, and Davidson applied for one of the two postgraduate travelling scholarships that were allocated to New Zealand. He had done well in his studies but not well enough and...

    • Jock Phillips

      Neville Crompton Phillips (1916–2001), later Professor of History at the University of Canterbury, served in the Royal Artillery from 1939 to 1946. He served from the ages of twenty-three to thirty—years of young adulthood that are usually thought of as among the defining period of a person’s life, when attitudes are shaped and life courses chosen. This was a time spent in military service witnessing traumatic events, so the expectation might be that the war years would shape his world view and approach to history for the rest of his life. But this is not really a story...

    • Janet Wilson

      The New Zealander Daniel Marcus Davin (1913–90) had a varied, fulfilling and, by most standards, very successful war. Yet his considerable achievements during these years—three times Mentioned in Dispatches, promoted to captain in 1942, to major in 1943, and the MBE (Military Division) in 1944—are perhaps less important today than his scholarly and literary legacy, which covers writing in different genres and includes unpublished poems, diaries and letters.² Davin’s prodigious output covering his experiences and those of other New Zealanders in the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) whom he worked alongside in the Mediterranean and Northern...