By Tracey Arklay, John Nethercote, John Wanna
This monograph brings jointly the very best practitioners of the paintings and craft of political biography in Australia. they're at the same time a few of our greatest students who, at the very least partially, have became their consciousness to writing Australian political lives. they aren't in basic terms chroniclers of our instances yet multidisciplinary analysts developing layers of rationalization and theoretical perception. They contain educational, expert and beginner biographers; students from a variety of disciplines (politics, background, sociology, public management, gender studies); and politicians who for a time strutted the political level. The assembled papers discover the strengths and weaknesses of the biographical technique; the joy it will probably carry; the issues and frustrations of writing biographies; and a few of the methods the ‘project’ might be approached by way of these developing those lives. They probe the paintings and craft of the political biographer.
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Extra info for Australian Political Lives: Chronicling Political Careers and Administrative Histories (Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG))
Rather, the ‘facile attention to the social and political forces driving both sides of politics’, Cavalier swiped, ‘is more akin to writing words for balloons in a comic strip, pictures not supplied’. It can, then, get nasty. And it can also seem that political biography, in such a debate, is allocated the fairly meagre role of confirming a public record (a role perhaps like that noted of recent literary biographies, where — presumably under commercial pressure — a detailed intellectual engagement with the subject gives way simply to a chronicle of works and personalities).
Despite the recognition that biography is an incomplete science, biographical research is an ‘important way of writing about the past and inspecting the human condition’ (Pimlott 1999: 33). Through biographical research, individual experiences and identities can be explored. Biography provides an alternative point of analysis to the workings of social groups, situations and events, which is the normal frame of reference for historical research (see Lieblich et al. 1998: 8). As such it can broaden, rather than reduce, an understanding of who got ‘what, when and how’ (Lasswell 1970).
Malcolm Fraser used it in his day. Alexander Downer used almost exactly the same phrase at the beginning of his ill-fated leadership in 1994. There is no sense of nurturing the past. The past is to be left to rest, not celebrated. This may be due to the party’s fractured and turbulent experiences. The party’s history during the previous century is but a series of new beginnings and rebirths. It makes sense that they do not want to dwell on their failures and, apart from Menzies, there are no heroes for them.
Australian Political Lives: Chronicling Political Careers and Administrative Histories (Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG)) by Tracey Arklay, John Nethercote, John Wanna