"Bedlam at Botany Bay offers readers a strikingly original re-reading of early colonial Australia. Beautifully crafted and deeply empathetic, this is a book with genuine literary and scholarly merit. It makes a significant and invigorating impact on the field of Australian history, and deserves to be read and discussed for many years to come." – Judge's Comments, New South Wales Premier's Awards 2020
"A brilliant and compassionate study. Vivid true stories spill out of these pages, illuminating colonial society with the myriad flares of private suffering." – Tom Griffiths AO
"by insisting that we should examine trauma and madness in their wider social contexts, by voyaging into emotional history and the predicaments of both the insane and the people who cared for them, James Dunk has opened promising new ways to understand the histories of empires and colonies." – Grace Karskens
International Council of Psychologists
I'll be speaking on an Expert Panel on Climate Justice with Gonzalo Bacigalupe (University of Massachusetts Boston) and Erinn Cameron, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Fielding Graduate University and behavioral resident-clinical psychology intern at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
Art, Play, and Ecological Emotion
We're returning to the Royal Hotel, Darlington, for a night of short film, poetry, photography and live performance: New Feels New Forms: Art, Play and Ecological Emotion. It was my pleasure to curate a vibrant and wonderful set of artistic engagements of ecological emotion. Films by Rowena Potts and Ceridwen Dovey and The Parallel Effect. Wordplay by James Dunk, Freya MacDonald, Christine McFetridge, Cameron Muir, Anastasia Murney, Lynda Ng, Kate Stevens, and Jamie Wang. Poems by Frances Grimshaw. Multispecies drag performance by Laurie Form. Photography by Lena Schlegel.
In December I'll be convening a large interdisciplinary symposium at the University of Sydney together with Dr Blanche Verlie and others: Nature Feelz: Perspectives and Reflections on Ecological Emotion. Sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute and RMIT.
I'll be speaking about colonial suicide on a panel with Kirsten McKenzie and Penny Russell, 'Politics and the People: Interpersonal Politics, the Courts and the Press’, at the State of the Colony: People, Place and Politics in 1823, Legislative Council of New South Wales Bicentenary Seminar, NSW Parliament, Sydney. Watch the panel here.
At the end of April I'll be giving a paper called ‘Planetary Boundaries and Planetary Psychology: Beyond the Limits to Growth' to the Contemporary Histories Research Group at Deakin University.
In April I'll be deliving a paper entitled ‘Psychology as if the Whole Earth Mattered: Cold War, Climate Change and the Human Psyche, 1982–92,’ to the History Seminar at the University of Adelaide.
Historians on Planetary Futures
In February I'll be presenting my work to the Historians on Planetary Futures seminar series run out of New Earth Histories and the Laureate Centre for History & Population at the University of New South Wales.
Keynote Panel: Innovation in Health and Medicine
Delighted to be invited to speak about planetary health on a keynote panel with Charlotte Greenhalgh, Elizabeth Roberts-Pedersen and Tatjana Buklijas at the ANZSHM Biennial Conference, 'Innovation in Health and Medicine,' at the University of Newcastle, 1-4 December 2021.
Australian Academy of Humanities Annual Symposium
The Australian Academy of Humanities Annual Symposium is an important annual meeting of Australian humanities scholars. This year’s theme is Culture, Nature, Climate: Humanities and the Environmental Crisis, and I'll be talking about my research on mental health and ecological distress.
Emotion, Anxiety, Environmental History
Together with wonderful colleagues in environmental history Margaret Cook, Nancy Cushing, and Rebecca Jones, I'll be talking about histories of ecological anxiety at the panel Anxiety and Emotion in Environmental History. Moderated by Andrea Gaynor and sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute and Australian and Aotearoa Environmental History Network. Register here.
The City of Sydney
I'll be giving a talk for the City of Sydney about my book, Bedlam at Botany Bay. Register here.
The Incoherent and Accidental: Blackheath History Forum
I'll be speaking to the wonderful community of historians at the BlackHeath History Forum, on 'The Incoherent and Accidental: Writing the History of Madness.' Watch me here.
Words and Poetry: Stories of the City
I'm delighted to be curating an evening of talks by students of Sin City, the urban history course I've been teaching at the University of Sydney, for History Week 2021. Poetry reading by Toby Fitch from his new book Sydney Spleen. You can watch along here.
Byron Writers Festival (cancelled due to covid-19)
I'll (now not) be at two panels in Byron this winter: Traumatic States of Mind: Colonial History (with Judy Atkinson and Mark McKenna) and Drugs, Magness and the Damage Done (with Benjamin Gilmour and Antony Loewenstein).
Mayhem and Margins
I'll be speaking at a special session of the Sydney Writer’s Festival together with the other winners of the NSW Premier's History Awards: Histories of Mayhem and Margins.
Write Around the Murray Festival
I'll be speaking at two events during this online festival – an author talk at 2.30pm and a presentation in the panel Past Tense: History: What is it good for? Also presenting are Megan Davis, Tony Birch, Lucy Treloar, Chris Flynn, and the panel will be chaired by Clare Wright. Both events are free, but registration is essential.
Six historians will be giving flash talks at this online event for this year's History Week, hosted by History Council of New South Wales. Each talk will be tied to an image.
NSW Premier's History Awards
I was thrilled to receive the Australian History Prize at the NSW Premier's History Awards – awarded for a major work of non-fiction on Australian history.
Psychiatry and its Discontents
My review of Andrew Scull's latest book, Psychiatry and its Discontents, appears in the May edition of Australian Book Review (paywall).
Ernest Scott Prize
Bedlam at Botany Bay shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize, for the most distinguished contribution to Australian or New Zealand History, or the colonisation of those places.
One Health Aotearoa Symposium, Wellington
Planetary health researchers are exploring links between human health and the health of the planet's natural systems; this paper asks whether the mental health link might be more challenging, but also more productive.
Charles Perkins Centre Exceptional Contribution Award 2019
I was awarded a prize by the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney for interdisciplinary research, including two articles in the New England Journal of Medicine. The CPC is a superb meeting place of the biomedical sciences, humanities, and social sciences – exactly the sort of exchange we urgently need.
New Earth Histories
In December a brilliant group of scholars will be hosted by Alison Bashford's New Earth Histories Research Program at the University of New South Wales, comparing origin stories, histories of planetary science, and cosmologies. I'll be speaking about calls for a new Western cosmology amongst psychologists concerned at the parlous relations between humans and other species.
Writing the history of the interior
I'll be speaking on this theme as part of a keynote panel at the University of Sydney history postgraduate conference, Writing History.
Old Savoy Theatre
Author talk, Newcastle & Hunter District Historical Society, Old Savoy Theatre, New Lambton.
Memories of the Future
As part of History Week 2019, Memory and Landscape, I'll be curating an evening of short talks and soundscape music, laying down memories for the future of places which are slipping away. Hosted by my good friends at Cafe Shenkin, with music by Asher Graieg-Morrison and words by JAMES FINDLAY, JARROD HORE, EMMA KLUGE, CATHY PERKINS, HOLLIE PICH, MARAMA WHYTE and JAMES DUNK.
Psychology as if the whole earth mattered
Towards a planetary mental health
Mapping the conceptual history of planetary health
A collaborative project between the University of Sydney, Monash University, and KTH Stockholm
Psychology as if the whole earth mattered: towards a planetary mental health
This article traces a genealogy for the various strands of contemporary psychology which are concerned with global environmental change, including conservation psychology, ecopsychology, and other subfields and interdisciplinary concentrations. Focusing on a network of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other researchers based at a research center founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1982, the article explores what those who first turned to the psychological causes and implications of climate change and other kinds of global environmental disruption had learned from their studies of nuclear-era psychology. The explorations of these researchers and practitioners in systems psychology, depth psychology, and political psychology, elicited by the first truly planetary crisis of the modern world, the threat of general nuclear war (which, apart from the enormous damage done at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and during weapons tests, remained largely theoretical), were applied to a new planetary crisis which was already unfolding: global environmental degradation. As they completed this pivot from the nuclear threat to the environmental crisis, at the end of the Cold War, using the language of the psychology of survival, these researchers displayed the form and function of what might be called a planetary psychology-of psychological theory and practice which broaches the planetary context of the individual psyche.
Memories of the Future
a planet burning hot, breathing ragged
To heal our planet we must know it more deeply.
Seven Sydney historians and a local musician shared stories in word and song of places that have formed us, to re-enchant the world and lay down memories for the future
Bedlam at Botany Bay (NewSouth, 2019).
Knowledge Making: Historians, Archives and Bureaucracy, with Barbara Brookes (Routledge, 2020).
Articles and book chapters
(In preparation) James Dunk, ‘Safe Operating Space? Limits to Growth, Planetary Boundaries, and the Human Psyche,’ in Making Environmental Objects: Global Environmental Governance in Historical Perspective, edited by Sabine Höhler, Gloria Samosir, and Sverker Sörlin (for Cambridge University Press).
(In preparation) James Dunk, ‘The Temporal Violence of Nuclear Winter,’ Anticipatory Environmental (Hi)Stories: Narratives of Coming Nature(s) – from Antiquity to the Anthropocene, edited by Christopher Schliephake and Evi Zemanek (for Lexington Books).
Warwick Anderson and James Dunk, ‘Planetary Health History,’ Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society (forthcoming, December 2022).
James Dunk, ‘Wrongful Confinement and the Spectre of Colonial Despotism: The Political History of Madness in New South Wales,’ History Australia 19, no. 1 (2022): 34–53.
James Dunk, ‘Psychology as if the Whole Earth Mattered: Nuclear Threat, Environmental Crisis, and the Emergence of Planetary Psychology,’ History of Psychology 25, no. 2 (2022): 97–120. https://doi.org/10.1037/hop0000208.
‘Assembling Planetary Health: Histories of the Future,’ with Warwick Anderson, in Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves, edited by Samuel S. Myers and Howard Frumkin (Island Press, April 2020): 17-35.
‘Sounding the Alarm on Climate Change, 1989 and 2019’, with David S. Jones, New England Journal of Medicine (11 December 2019). doi:10.1056/NEJMp1913916.
‘Human Health on an Ailing Planet — Historical Perspectives on Our Future’, with David S. Jones, Anthony G. Capon, and Warwick H. Anderson, New England Journal of Medicine 381:778-82 (22 August 2019): 778-82. doi:10.1056/NEJMms1907455.
‘Work, Paperwork, and the Imaginary Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum, 1846’, Rethinking History 22, no. 3 (2018): 326-55. doi:10.1080/13642529.2018.1486956.
‘The Liability of Madness and the Commission of Lunacy in New South Wales, 1805-12’, History Australia 15, no. 1 (2018): 130-50. doi:10.1080/14490854.2017.1413942.
‘Authority and the Treatment of the Insane at Castle Hill Asylum, 1811-1825’, Health and History 19, no. 2 (2017): 17-40. doi:10.5401/healthhist.19.2.0017.
Co-edited Special Issues
'From the Margins: Madness and History in Australia' [with Catharine Coleborne], History Australia 19, no. 1 (2022).
‘Bureaucracy, Archive Files and the Making of Knowledge’ [with Barbara Brookes], Rethinking History 22, no. 3 (2018): 281-88. doi:10.1080/13642529.2018.1489578.
‘Incarceration, Migration, Dispossession and Discovery: Medicine in Colonial Australia’ [with Angeline Brasier], Health and History 19, no. 2 (2017): 1-16. doi:10.5401/healthhist.19.2.0001
Book and Exhibition Reviews
‘A Science of Our Own: Exhibitions and the Rise of Australian Public Science by Peter H. Hoffenberg (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019)’ [Book Review], Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society 112, no. 1 (March 2021): 193-94.
‘The Anthropocene and the Humanities: From Climate Change to a New Age of Sustainability by Carolyn Merchant (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020)’ [Book Review], Social History of Medicine (27 January 2021).
‘Colonizing Madness: Asylum and Community in Fiji by Jacqueline Leckie (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2020)’ [Book Review], Journal of Pacific History (2 February 2021).
‘The Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health’, edited by Greg Eghigian (Routledge, 2017) [Book Review], Health and History 21, no. 1 (2019): 90-94. doi:10.5401/healthhist.21.1.0090.
‘Louella McCarthy and Kathryn Weston, curators, “Caring for the Incarcerated”, University of Wollongong Library, Wollongong [Exhibition Review]’, History Australia 14, no. 4 (2017): 662-65. doi:10.1080/14490854.2017.1389255.
'Insanity, Identity and Empire: Immigrants and Institutional Confinement in Australia and New Zealand, 1873-1910', by Catharine Coleborne (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016), in Social History of Medicine (23 June 2016), doi 10.1093/shm/hkw069.
'Illness in Colonial Australia', by F. B. Smith (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011), in Journal of Australian Colonial History, vol. 15 (2013), pp. 226-27.
Essays and literary reviews
Essays and other writing
(In preparation) James Dunk and Phil Walker-Harding, ‘Gaming Climate Change: Play, Affect and Crisis Habits,’ for Slade.
Interview with environmental anthropologist Sophie Chao, more-than-human worlds (August 2022).
'Designing Australian Games in an Ecological Crisis’ (with Meredith Walker-Harding and Phil Walker-Harding), Sydney Environment Institute (5 July 2022).
‘Writing Life No. 16: An Interview with Warwick Anderson,’ Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology, 10 February 2022.
‘Writing the Environment: Encounters, Transformation, and Perspectives in Multispecies Storytelling,’ (with Sophie Chao and Hannah Della Bosca), Sydney Environment Institute (6 October 2021).
'Reaching Across Disciplinary Boundaries to Consider Ecological Futures,’ Sydney Environment Institute (19 August 2021).
‘Unease and Disease: Redrawing the Boundaries of Colonial Madness,’ Griffith Review 72: States of Mind (May 2021): 149–58.
‘Planetary Health Histories,’ interview with Warwick Anderson, James Dunk and Marcos Cueto for História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos blog (October 2020).
‘How Doctors Convinced the World the Planet Was Worth Fighting For,’ The Conversation (26 August 2019).
'Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization by Harry Yi-Jui Wu (MIT Press, 2021),’ Australian Book Review, no. 434 (September 2021).
‘Psychiatry and its Discontents’ by Andrew Scull (University of California Press, 2019), Australian Book Review, no. 421 (May 2020).
‘Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Communicated Disease’ by Simon Chapman and Fiona Crichton (Sydney University Press, 2017), Australian Book Review, no. 415 (October 2019), pp. 27-28.
‘The Environment: A History of the Idea’ by Paul Warde, Libby Robin and Sverker Sörlin (Johns Hopkins, 2018), Australian Book Review, no. 408 (January 2019).
‘The Memorandoms of James Martin: An Astonishing Escape From Early New South Wales’ ed. Tim Causer (UCL Press, 2017), Australian Book Review, no. 397 (2017).
‘Dr. James Barry: A Woman Ahead of Her Time’ by Michael du Preez and Jeremy Dronfield (Oneworld Publications, 2016), Australian Book Review, no. 388 (2017), p. 49.
“A vision of past savagery that lies maddeningly between truth and fiction”: James Dunk reviews Sarah Drummond’s 'The Sound', Rochford Street Review, no. 19 (September 2016).
'Finding Sanity: John Cade, Lithium and the Taming of Bipolar Disorder', by Greg de Moore and Ann Westmore, in Australian Book Review, no. 386 (2016), p. 66.
'The Profilist' by Adrian Mitchell, in Australian Book Review, no. 378 (January-February 2016), p. 47.
'Seasons of War' by Christopher Lee, in Australian Book Review, no. 370 (March 2015), p. 60.
'The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon' by Laure Murat, translated by Deke Dusinberre (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), in Australian Book Review, no. 369 (March 2015), p. 58.
BA PhD (Sydney)
2018– Research Fellow, University of Sydney
I am a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Humanities and the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney, working on histories of planetary health, depth psychology, and human ecology.
2018– Conjoint fellow, University of Newcastle
2013-17 Research Associate, University of Sydney
I managed the the laureate research program Race and Ethnicity in the Global South, led by Professor Warwick Anderson.
Australian History Prize, NSW Premier's History Awards 2020 (Bedlam at Botany Bay) [$15,000].
Charles Perkins Centre Exceptional Contribution Award, 2019 [$2000].
Jill Roe Prize, Australian Historical Association, 2016.
Grants and Fellowships
ANU Australian Studies Institute Visiting Fellowship, 2023 [$5,000]
Co-Chief Investigator, ‘Young People and Climate Distress: Developing Clinical Tools for the Climate Crisis,’ Collaborative Fellowship, Sydney Environment Institute, 2022 [$32,000]
Co-Chief Investigator, ‘At a Loss for Words of Loss: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives on New Earth Lexicons,’ School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry Project Grant, 2022 [$4,867]
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Research Support Scheme, 2022 [$7,509]
Harvard Mobility Scheme Grant, Office of Global Engagement, University of Sydney, 2019 [$8,108].
AHA-Copyright Agency Early Career Mentorship Scheme (with Catharine Coleborne, University of Newcastle), 2018 [$1,500].
EU Erasmus+ Mobility Grant, 2016 [EUR 2,780].
Natasha Kingsley © 2016