Satirising the Australian City: Bruce Petty

Outstanding Contribution to Journalism winner: Bruce Petty #Walkleys — Walkley Foundation (@walkleys) December 2, 2016 Bruce Petty was awarded the gong for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Journalism’ at the annual Australian Walkley journalism awards this evening. I first came across Petty as part of my research into Australian urban history. From the 1960s onwards, his political satire appeared across various periodicals including the Bulletin magazine, the Australian and the Age newspapers.

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Blog update: November 2016

First off, thanks to the readers of this blog. I appreciate everyone that takes the time to read and get in touch. I’ve made an effort over the past few months to post something every couple of weeks. Most of the content covers my research publications, and I suppose that’s gradually becoming this blog’s focus. It brings everything I’m working on together, making it both accessible and providing an archive of it. Now there’s a focus, I’ve updated the blog. Check out the new About page. It has a bio and photo. I created a new ‘Follow Me’ bar as well, which is below. And I also updated jameslesh.com.

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Preserving cities: how ‘trendies’ shaped Australia’s urban heritage

This article was originally published on The Conversation on 3 November 2016. Read the original article. The Australian Ugliness, architect and critic Robin Boyd wrote in 1960, incorporated the “background ugliness” of Australia’s cities: a suburbia of: … unloved veneer villas and wanton little shops, and big worried factories. These are the kinds of suburban places that in 2016 sell at weekend real estate auctions for six or seven figures. Despite the frequent outcries of today’s residents of “Trendyville”, these buildings are readily converted to fashionable heritage homes, or demolished to make way for new apartment blocks. Heritage has a history. The kinds of

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Brisbane and Gold Coast urban heritage in the early 1970s (and today)

In late January, a hundred or so urbanists descended on the Gold Coast for the 13th Australian Urban History Planning History (UHPH) Conference. Attendees included academics, historians, planners and practitioners, who delivered a range of papers on the Australian city, from pre-colonial times to the present-day. Hosted every two years—the next in 2018 is in Melbourne—this is the largest Australasian conference of its kind.

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Book Review: Shane Ewen, What is Urban History?

Last year I published a book review of What is Urban History? by Shane Ewen  in the Melbourne Historical Journal (vol. 43). Since then, reviews have appeared on the LSE blog and in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, amongst other places. Ewen was also recently interviewed on the excellent German based Global Urban History blog . Written for an Australian audience, my review is republished below.

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Ruminating on locked out cities

A couple of weeks ago an article I wrote with Professor Andrew May on urban regulation and specifically the lockout laws appeared in The Conversation. It provoked a strong reaction across social media and also in private correspondence. Our critics accused us of being libertarians due to our questioning of regulation and indifferent to the public health of the community. Others have appreciated the historical perspective that we offered. We treated the lockout laws as a lens through which to consider some of the nuances of how regulation actually operates in cities, suggesting that it invariably impacts urban life—whether for better or worse. The broader point was that

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Lockout laws repeat centuries-old mistake of denying value of cities as messy places

This article was originally published on The Conversation on 7 June 2016. Read the original article. By Andrew J. May, University of Melbourne and James Lesh, University of Melbourne Sydney’s lockout laws, as well as current and proposed restrictions in other Australian cities including Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Newcastle, are perhaps more about regulating people’s behaviours in cities than about liquor licensing. Such knee-jerk responses to tidy up the mess of complex issues belie society’s need for diversity. They also neglect culture’s debt to the manifold possibilities of social behaviour in urban space. Viewed as part of a broader historical pattern, such episodes of

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