BEc (Soc. Sci) (Hons) (Sydney); PhD (Sydney)



History
2021

Sean Scalmer is a student of political history, especially the history of labour, social movements, and democracy. He has pursued these interests in studies of Australia, but also in transnational and comparative works. He is the author of five books, co-author of a sixth, and co-editor of six more.

Sean’s initial research was in the field of Australian labour history, and he has pub-lished widely in the field, including a popular work for a mass audience, The Little His-tory of Australian Unionism (2006). He continues to research in this area, and as Coral Thomas Fellow at the State Library of NSW (2022-23) will undertake the first full histo-ry of the ‘eight hours’ movement in Australia. He is currently an Associate Editor of the journal Labour History.

Sean’s interest in political mobilisation, first evident in his work in labour history, was broadened in an examination of the relationship between the mass media and Austral-ian protest movements since the 1960s: Dissent Events: Protest, the Media and the Political Gimmick in Australia (2002). He then collaborated in an effort to deepen the connections between academic research and political activists in a study of activist knowledge and its implications: Activist Wisdom: Practical Knowledge and Creative Tension in Social Movements (2006).

Sean’s effort to understand the long-term histories of transnational social movements inspired Gandhi in the West: the Mahatma and the Rise of Radical Protest (2011). This stimulated a deeper interest in the history of nonviolence and social movements, pursued in numerous subsequent works. He continues to investigate these matters and is co-editor of the only journal dedicated to the global history of social move-ments: Moving the Social. In recent years he has also co-edited two volumes on relat-ed themes: The Transnational Activist (2017) and Remembering Social Movements: Activism and Memory (2021).

Studies in the transnational history of nonviolence inspired further work in the transna-tional dimensions of political history, specifically a prize-winning study of the changing forms of electioneering over the nineteenth century: On the Stump: Campaign Oratory and Democracy in the United States, Great Britain and Australia (2017). This, in turn, deepened Sean’s interest in the long-term trajectory of political change in nineteenth-century Australia. He pursued this matter in a political biography of the leading radical liberal of the colonial era: Democratic Adventurer: Graham Berry and the Making of Australian Politics (2020).

Sean has contributed to history and civics education in NSW and Victoria and to trade union education. In addition to his current work on the history of the ‘eight hours’ movement, he is also currently writing a transnational history of ‘direct action’.

Professor, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne (2020-)

Associate Professor, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne (2012-19)

Senior Lecturer, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Uni-versity of Melbourne (2007-11)

Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Macquarie University (2007)

Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Macquarie University (2004-07)

Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship, Macquarie University (2001-04)

Macquarie University Research Fellowship, (1998-2001)

Coral Thomas Fellow, State Library of NSW (2022-23)

NSW Premier’s History Prize - General History Category. Winner for On the Stump (2018)

Visiting International Professor, Institute for Social Movements, Ruhr University, Bochum (2017-18)

Visiting Fellow, Re:Work Centre for the History of Work, Humboldt University (2017-18)

Visiting Fellow, Columbia University (2014)

Visiting Senior Fellow, King’s College, University of London (2014)

ARC Discovery Grants: Chief Investigator on 3 grants, (2008-10; 2009-13; 2013-15)

  1. Scalmer, S., Democratic Adventurer: Graham Berry and the Making of Australian Politics, Clayton, Vic.: Monash University Press, 2020.
  2. Scalmer, S., On the Stump: Campaign Oratory and Democracy in the United States, Britain, and Australia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2017
  3. Scalmer, S., Gandhi in the West: The Mahatma and the Rise of Radical Protest, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  4. Scalmer, S., Dissent Events: Protest, The Media and the Political Gimmick in Aus-tralia, Sydney, University of New South Wales Press, 2002.
  5. Berger, S., Scalmer, S., and Wicke, C. (eds.), Remembering Social Movements: Activism and Memory, London and New York: Routledge, 2021.