Simply a Hypothesis?


Warwick Anderson was asked to write a reflection on his laureate fellowship for Humanities Australia, the journal of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Here’s how he begins:

I can’t say that it’s typical of the discipline, but I do know that after I finish a research project I like to move on to something different, whether in time or place or method. On the few occasions I feel compelled to return to a historical topic, it’s because some new, and often surprising, perspective or approach acts on me like a lodestone. So it was when around 2010 I proposed the research programme that came to be embedded in my application to the Australian Research Council (ARC) for a Laureate Fellowship. I felt the need to reframe and extend my earlier studies of the sciences of ‘whiteness’ in Australia, which had begun as long ago as the 1980s and culminated in the publication of The Cultivation of Whiteness in 2002.1 At the time of my ARC application, my colleagues thought the grant-writing exercise probably futile, since so few humanities scholars had succeeded in adapting their proposed research to the science model supposedly favoured in that scheme. But I had trained in medicine and done a little scientific research, so believed I knew the tricks, subterfuges and disguises that might get me past any doorkeepers. Additionally, I thought I had an irresistible proposal — but then, don’t we all. It meant returning to the topic of my first book — back to a subject that had acquired new aspects and fresh appeal, or so I imagined, while I had been distracted, and diverted elsewhere. Now was the moment, I told myself, to look again at ideas about race in the southern hemisphere, this time from new angles, different standpoints.

You can read the full article (laid out nicely, with images) as well as the other articles in the journal, here. The issue also features a similar reflection by Mark Finnane on his laureate fellowship in history, and two poems by David Malouf.