Terrific Australian Historical Association plenary panel on 6 July with Simon Sleight (King’s College, London), Lisa Murray (City of Sydney) and Louise Prowse (New York University, Sydney).
Louise explored the ways in which country towns emerged as a central expression of the Australian rural ideal in the twentieth century. In particular she identified ideologies of ‘the new local’ in the self-imagining of country towns, particularly as expressed through production and culinary identities (sophisticated tourism with an environmental conscience). Lisa spoke of the ways in which city histories are made visible, legible and usable for communities through a variety of local government-led programs. Here history as identity/place/belonging is critical to urban resilience and well-being. Simon’s paper—’Just passing through? On loitering in the (trans)urban’ used walking as a structuring theme to explore issues of urban theory and practice generally, and courtship as a brief transurban case study. Andy stresses the continuing relevance of the urban in any appraisal of Australian history and identity, and made a case for the municipal as an ignored yet significant area of study.