Alistair Thomson

Professor of History, Monash University

My teaching and writing explores the ways in which different kinds of life story evidence can illuminate the past and its meanings in the present lives of individuals and society. I'm currently researching the lives of four British women who emigrated to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, drawing upon a rich archive of letters, journals, autobiographical writing, oral history interviews and photographs. These life story documents offer detailed and intimate evidence about events and experiences, and changing relationships, attitudes and feelings, as these four women negotiated their wartime and postwar lives through migration and in the context of dramatically shifting roles and expectations for women in each country. Though migration is the connecting thread in all four lives, this project - tentatively titled 'Moving Stories, Women's Lives: British Women and the Postwar Australian Dream' - is not only about migration. Precisely because these women were migrants they recorded their lives in the letters and photographs they sent home, and because they wanted to describe, compare and explain their new life in Australia they photographed and wrote about aspects of everyday life and women's experience that are often lost to history. Hear Al talk about this 'Moving Stories' project in this talk on 19 June 2008 at the National Museum of Australia - on the NMA website at http://www.nma.gov.au/audio/historical_interpretation_series/alistair_thomson/

Other research projects in development include:

Australian Generations: an Oral History of Everyday Life, a national oral history project in collaboration with the National Library of Australia, ABC Radio National, the Oral History Association of Australia, and colleagues at Monash and La Trobe Universities.
an edited collection about oral history and photography, with Professor Alexander Freund from the University of Winnipeg in Canada.
Anzac Memories Revisited: an exploration of Anzac ‘post-memory’ after the passing of the last Great War veterans.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Oral History, Director of the Centre for Life History Research, University of Sussex
  • 2007–present
    Professor of History, Monash University

Education

  •  
    University of Sussex, MA History
  •  
    University of Sussex, PhD History
  • 1982 
    University of Melbourne, BA Arts

Research Areas

  • Historical Studies (2103)