Book reviews for the Journal of Australian Studies

11 Feb

This year I have stepped in as book reviews editor for the Journal of Australian Studies, while Cath Kevin from Flinders University (Adelaide) is on maternity leave. JAS publishes articles and book reviews on aspects of Australian life – historical, cultural, political, sociological &c. As of 2008 it will appear four times a year, in hard copy and online, published by Taylor & Francis, and edited by the good Martin Crotty and Melissa Harper at the University of Queensland.

The reviews are to be scholarly – you don’t have to be at a university to write one, but they need to be written in articulate, well-tempered prose, for an audience mainly consisting of scholarly people. Length: 600-800 words, to be written within a month of receiving the book.

I have attached a list of books available for review now (books-awaiting-reviewers.doc), and plan to update it here online as more come in. There are books of political commentary here, of poetry, history, and an intriguing look at Australia’s dismantling of public education. I’ve also put an example of a fine new work, Howard Morphy’s Becoming Art, along with the publisher’s media release, below. If you are interested in reviewing one of these books, email me at with a brief bio and an outline of your interests.

Howard Morphy, Becoming Art (UNSW Press, 2008)


Thirty years ago Australian Aboriginal art was little more than a footnote to world art. Today it is considered to be an important cultural movement, but the dialogue between Indigenous and Western fine art worlds has usually been written from the Western perspective. In Becoming Art Howard Morphy seeks to reverse the trend. Drawing on his close association with the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem land, he recounts the history of Indigenous art with the artists themselves centre-stage.

Becoming Art provides a new analysis of the shifting cultural and social contexts that surround the production of Aboriginal art. Transcending the boundaries between anthropology and art history, the book draws on arguments from both disciplines to provide a unique interdisciplinary perspective that challenges Western presuppositions of fine art. Examining how contemporary Yolngu artists negotiate their cultural practices in the face of the narrow definition of fine art in Western terms, in Becoming Art, Howard Morphy argues for a more cross-cultural perspective on world art history.


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