Library

12 January 2018

Anthropology and military intelligence during WWII

A highlight of the Library's Maps Collection is a set of military reports published by the Allied Geographical Sectionan intelligence unit formed under the directives of General MacArthur during World War II. The Library has been digitising this important research collection.

Charmaine Manuel, a staff member working on the project, writes about the significance of this collection. 

The Allied Geographical Section 

In 1942, the Allied Forces faced the prospect of waging war against the Japanese in a region known as the South West Pacific Area. They soon discovered that their scant knowledge of the area was a significant impediment to devising a military strategy. In response, the Allied Geographical Section (AGS) was formed, to provide maps as well as geographic and anthropological information of this unknown region.

War and Anthropology

While the focus of the AGS material is largely geographical with its inclusion of maps, aerial photographs and terrain analyses, the reports also contain information on the "human terrain" of the South West Pacific area. Since war causes a collision of cultures, languages and ideas, there has long been a confluence of military intelligence and the field of anthropology. Anthropologists often worked for intelligence units like the AGS, providing any information that troops on the ground could use to gain the cooperation of the locals.

     
Fig. 1 An excerpt from Report No. 68 on the area of Zamboanga. 

Each AGS report contains a summary of the area's demographics, the etiquette to be observed when interacting with local tribes, as well as advice on which groups would be most likely to assist the Allies against the Japanese (See Fig.1). Some of the reports also contain glossaries of words in native languages to help the Allies to communicate with local inhabitants (See Fig.2). This sort of information reveals a lot about the way in which anthropology was used to achieve a nation's wartime objectives while also giving us a snapshot of what the interactions between the Allies and the people of the South West Pacific region may have looked like.
Fig. 2 A glossary of words in
English, Malay and Boeroenese

Further information about the relationship between locals and Allied troops can be gained from the pamphlets published by the AGS to assist troops with daily life in the jungles of South-East Asia. Three of these pamphlets, published for troops in Papua New Guinea, form a part of the Library's digitised collection - Getting about in New Guinea, The native carrier and You and the native

Both the reports and the pamphlets reveal the vital importance of cooperating with local groups to further the war effort in the Pacific. In You and the native, troops are reminded that the 'natives are a very important factor in the military situation' and whose 'goodwill may decide whether we win or lose the Battle of New Guinea.' In Getting about in New Guinea, we learn that troops relied on New Guineans for knowledge of the terrain and were urged to 'remember that your great ally is the native. He knows his country backwards - what to do and what not to do. You will do well to make him your friend and rely on him'In addition to relying on native knowledge of the terrain, it was also in the interests of the Allies to befriend the locals to ensure that they remained loyal to the Western powers and to prevent them from turning to the Japanese (See Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 An extract from You and the native

Despite all the advice exhorting troops to cultivate 'the native' as an ally, the pamphlets also remind Australian troops in New Guinea to maintain the pre-war colonial hierarchy between whites and New Guineans:

The natives have a big opinion of Europeans in general, but they will test you and size you up as an individual. Your conduct can raise or lower the general standard. You are therefore a guardian of the white man's prestige. It is a very important obligation.

Brotherhood between Australians and New Guineans was all very well but troops were advised not to 'act like a twin brother. Be very much the big brother.'

While a relationship of distance and authority was prescribed military policy, Australians formed close relationships with New Guineans who participated in the campaign as carriers. The kindness that they exhibited in carrying wounded soldiers to aid shelters has led them to be known as the "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels."
One of the most iconic images of the
Kokoda Campaign. This photograph
shows Rapahel Oimbari assisting
Private George ‘Dick’ Whittington who
was wounded on Christmas Eve 1942.

Accessing the collection

The AGS publications offer a rich trove of information for researchers who are working on the Asian and Pacific arenas of World War II and can be accessed through Monash Collections Online.

The project has completed the collection of Special reports and Terrain studies, as well as the following pamphlets: The native carrierYou and the native, and Getting about in New Guinea.

For more information on the digitised collection please contact the Research Repository team at research.repository@monash.edu


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11 December 2017

Christmas closures at the libraries

With 2017 drawing to an end, Monash University will soon close down for the holiday period.

This means a total closure of University facilities, programs and services - including the closure of the Library from 5pm, Wednesday 20 December.

We will re-open in the new year, on Tuesday 2 January.

Please note the following arrangements about loans.

  • Hold and document delivery requests placed on or after 19 December will not be processed until 2 January
  • Items due during this closure will be extended automatically to 2 January
  • Requested items awaiting collection will be kept for collection until 2 January
  • Fines will not be accrued for the above closed dates but will be accrued for any other days that loans are overdue.

Over the holiday period, the only libraries where you will be able to return items through an external chute are the Hargrave-Andrew Library, at Clayton and the Peninsula Library.

The Law Library is closed for construction over summer, reopening in mid-February. Read more.

We wish all students and staff a happy and restful holiday period.


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24 November 2017

Casa de las Américas - an insight into Cuban life

Clichés about Cuba abound: cigars, vintage American cars and, of course, the music. However, much less is known about daily life in the country, says Subject Librarian Anne Melles. Now we can know a lot more.


The Orden Ana Betancourt medal was awarded to Haydée
 Santamaría among others in 1975
A new database, Cuban culture and cultural relations, 1959-, offers some fascinating insights into cultural activities in Cuba through the archives of the Casa de las Américas.

The Casa de las Américas is a cultural institution which came to play a significant role in the cultural life of Cuba. It was founded just months after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 by Haydée Santamaría, one of a number of women who were active in the Cuban Revolution. In contrast to many of the men they fought alongside and who are now household names, the lives of the “heroines of the revolution” (Byron, 2007, p. 142) remain largely unknown outside Cuba. This database is a reflection of some of the work that they continued after the Revolution.

The Casa de las Américas supported and encouraged cultural activities, and hosted a diverse range of activities from exhibitions of national and Latin American art, visits of foreign delegations, concerts by Latin American musicians such as Mercedes Sosa, workshops of local crafts, café conversatorios (book readings and discussions), and talks by well-known authors for example, Alejo Carpentier. In addition the Casa contained a library, published a journal, and offered the prestigious Casa de las Américas Literary Prize.

The database contains almost 45,000 documents from the archives including newspaper articles on a range of topics, information on libraries and literary activities in Latin American countries, and records of the daily running of the institution. Through the documents runs a strong sense of the importance of the work at the Casa de las Americas, not just as a centre of culture but through active engagement with cultural groups in Latin America and the world. These things were not merely additions to social life but essential; “un pueblo sin teatro es un pueblo sin cultura” (a country without theatre is a country without culture). 

The photo at right, (from the Recortes de prensa, 1975, 1981 collection) shows the recipients of the Orden Ana Betancourt in 1975, including Haydée Santamaría, and the US activist, Angela Davis.

The purchase of the database was made possible through the Ada Booth Benefaction.

Access Cuban culture and cultural relations, 1959-  here.

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17 November 2017

Slip back in time to Edo culture in Japan

Are you a student of Japanese culture and history? Subject Librarian Ayako Hatta introduces us to books held at Monash  describing and illustrating life in 17th century Japan.



The book “Ichinichi Edojin 一日江戸人” is an introduction to the lifestyle of the 17th century Edo江戸, Japan.  Edo as it was then known, is now known as the capital city, Tokyo東京.

The Edo period (1603-1868) was led by the shogun Tokugawa Family, a period which was often known to be a peaceful and happy time which lasted over 260 years. One of the foreign policies that the Tokugawa Family implemented was the “closed-door policy” (sakoku = 鎖国) that restricts any information coming inside Japan such as Christianity, immigration, trading and communicating with the outside world. A very unique culture including kabuki (dance-drama = 歌舞伎) with fashion & designs, ukiyo-e (picture of the floating world= 浮世絵) & shunga (erotic art = 春画) had flourished and became very popular during this period.

The population was already over a million people by the late Edo period, which at the time was larger than the population of London or Paris. Half of the Edo population were samurai (= 侍) and monks (sō = 僧), while the rest were town people (chōmin = 町民). Up to sixty percent of town people originally came from the country side and were skillful craftspeople (shokunin = 職人) or merchants (shōnin = 商人). Only five percent of them were known as “the real locals” (Edokko = 江戸っ子). 

Edokkogo etoki jiten ; 江戸っ子語絵解き辞典
(2) Edokkogo etoki jiten ; 江戸っ子語絵解き辞典

The majority of the Edokko population were tenants  and eighty percent of the people lived in dwellings called nagaya (“nagaya = 長屋”). The nagaya dwellings have many small rooms, an indoor kitchenette and a shared well and toilet outside. There were nearby public baths that the Edokko used at least twice a day.  Generally speaking Japanese people love to take baths but taking a bath 4 or 5 times a day was typical of the Eddoko. It was not because the Eddoko had a passion for cleanliness but because of the humid climate and a lot of sandy dust in the area.

The front cover of Ichinichi Edojin (top right) illustrates the way people dressed and travelled in the Edo period. When travelling, walking was the main form of transport. To travel outside of Edo, the traveller would need a “travel ticket” (ōrai kitte = 往来切手) from the master of the area or from a temple, and also a “certificate” (tegata = 手形) from the magistrate’s office. This was a people's identification according to families and guarantee of identity. The certificate also contained other details such as religion, funeral arrangement, and a statement that the traveller was not Christian as Christianity was prohibited by law during this period.

This is only a brief overview of life in Edo, Many more examples of how the Edo people lived are explored in the book with lots of manga illustrations.

(3) Sugiura Hinako no Edojuku ; 杉浦日向子の江戸塾



The author of “Ichinichi Edojin”, Hinako Sugiura was one of the notable manga artists in Japan. She was also a researcher with many scholarly yet highly accessible publications of resource materials specialising in the Edo period,. The book is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about the cultural history of Japan.

You can find this book and others illustrated here in the Japanese Collection located on the first floor of the Matheson Library in the Asian Collections. For more information about the Edo culture in English, use the Library Advanced Search and type in “edo period” in the subject field from the Monash University Library homepage.

Call numbers:
(1) JAP 952.025 S947.I 2005 
(2) JAP 952.025 S252E 2010
(3)  JAP 952.025 S947S 2006





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13 November 2017

Celebrating the discovery of evolution

Associate Professor Martin Burd, from the Monash School of Biological  Science, has written this article for our blog celebrating the anniversary of the publication of the seminal book,  Origin of Species.



Sexual selection of birds was further
 examined in Darwin's, Descent of Man
This November marks the 158th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Monash University holds a copy of the first edition volume in its Rare Books Collection, a true treasure from the history of human thought. This book stands with a handful of other great scientific works like Galileo’s Starry Messenger or Newton’s Principia Mathematica as a marker of our collective effort to understand nature.

The Origin of Species famously proposed that the diversity of species we observe in the world has been derived from ancestral species, now extinct, that differed from current forms of life. This idea of the “mutability” of species had been brewing among naturalists in Europe for decades at the time Darwin published his book. He turned the somewhat ill-defined notion of mutability into a science by proposing how it could happen through natural selection, a mechanism that would act automatically as a consequence of simple and observable features of nature. A century and a half of research since publication of the Origin has abundantly confirmed its central claims. The force of natural selection on populations has been observed and measured often, and even the natural formation of new species in historical times has been documented (it doesn’t always take millions of years!). Darwin’s ideas still form a core to evolutionary biology, but, following the blossoming of genetics in the 20th century, and the revolution provided by molecular genetics in this century, we are now aware of a richness and complexity to evolution far beyond what Darwin could have known.

Biologists still read Origin of Species, but the book’s influence has extended well beyond biology and even well beyond science. Its most important consequence has been on our conception of our own place in nature. Although Darwin gave only the slimmest allusion to humankind in the book, the implication that we had an origin like that of other species, proceeding from natural causes as a part of nature, was immediately apparent to readers in 1859, and to readers since. This has not been a comfortable thought for everyone. With our civilisation now facing challenges from climate disruption, it might prove to be a thought we need to embrace all the more.

You can see Darwin’s privileged education and social origins in his command of the language in Origin of Species: it’s a good book, easily read and elegant in a Victorian way. For anyone who wants to be acquainted with the ideas of the past that have shaped our world today, it is worth dipping into, or reading entirely.



Associate Professor Martin Burd completed his PhD at Princeton University. His main area of research focus is cvolutionary ecology. As an Evolutionary Ecologist, Martin investigates life-history evolution, behaviour, and reproduction in a variety of plants and animals. 


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