Articles on Cultural history

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We are still profoundly uncomfortable about the fact that females bleed once a month for half of their lives. Stuart Richards

The ongoing taboo of menstruation in Australia

Ask any young woman whether she feels embarrassed by her periods and she’ll likely deny it. Her grandmother might have hidden all evidence of "the curse" but not today’s liberated women. Right?
Transgender is an umbrella term, encompassing a number of different identities and practices. 'Umbrella' via

What’s in a word? The challenges of ‘transgender’

Transgender is a relatively new word. So when an academic seeks to create a transgender historical archive, complications abound.
What we choose to wear tells the world a great deal about our perceptions of ourselves. Leo Reynolds/Flickr

Do you see what I’m wearing? How clothes reveal who we are

It's easy to dismiss fashion as trivial but the clothes we wear have stories to tell. Fashion is part of everyday experience and our memories are often stitched into the seams of our favourite dresses.
The images that appear on our stamps tell a powerful story about the nation – so why don’t we pay more attention? Chris/Flickr

Let’s unstick our postage stamps from Howard’s Australia

For most of us stamps have become infrequent objects of daily life but they continue to be produced, and collected by devotees – so what do they say about us as a nation?
It’s time for lovers to exchange images of the organ really responsible for their emotions on Valentine’s Day. Emil Jeyaratnam/The Conversation

Darling, I love you … from the bottom of my brain

In William Shakespeare’s comedy Merchant of Venice, the play’s heroine Portia sings: Tell me where is fancy bred, Or in the heart or in the head. If you look at Valentine’s Day cards, it’s clear fancy…
Selma director and co-writer Ava DuVernay has crafted a new and important vision of an oft-examined era in our nation’s history. Stanley Wolfson/Library of Congress

Selma blurs line between past and present

Hollywood films that depict American history deeply influence our sense of national identity. Films that portray Civil Rights and Black Freedom history are particularly important. Beyond entertaining moviegoers…
Spices and other aromatics have been a driving force in human history. Wikimedia Commons

Out of your noggin? Festive spices and their intoxicating history

Traditional Christmas and winter food and drinks such as mulled wine, eggnog, ginger bread and fruitcakes often call for more than a dash of what Jamie Oliver calls “festive spices” – cloves, cinnamon…
The Trinidad-born Australian novelist Ralph de Boissière migrated to Melbourne in 1948 to escape Trinidad’s colour/class hierarchy. Breakdown Press

Adding pimento: a flavour of Caribbean migration to Australia

Growing up with a Jamaican grandmother in 1970s small-town Australia was unusual. There weren’t any other Caribbean (or West Indian) people living nearby and a Caribbean community did not exist in Newcastle…
At least no one got their head cut off … Emilio Lavandeira Jr/EPA

Bites, brawls and severed heads: football’s history of violence

Another game, another bite. That’s the allegation against Uruguayan Luis Suárez, anyway, who has been accused of sinking his teeth into an opposition player. For the third time. But a mid-game nibble on…
Ritzy red wine has come to represent political influence-peddling in the resignation of NSW premier Barry O'Farrell. AAP/Julian Smith

O'Farrell resignation: red wine, political blood and cultural memory

Political scandals, the perennial product of the grinding gears of greed and governance, proliferate in the age of digital media, the 24-hours news cycle and anti-corruption bodies with wide powers. Constant…
International protests against Russia’s anti-gay laws are the latest in a long history of attempts to boycott international sporting events. EPA/Gideon Markowicz

Mixing politics and play: Russian protests and sporting boycotts

The mantra that “sport and politics don’t mix” was always false and misleading, but in the age of Twitter it’s absurd. Calling for boycotts of high-profile sporting events is an established political tactic…

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