Labour History

Denis Murphy, the University of Queensland and Labour History, 1966–83: A Reassessment

Labour History (2016), 110, (1), 125–142.


This paper explores the flowering of labour history at the University of Queensland between 1966 and 1983; a blossoming that not only laid foundations for the discipline in Queensland but which also provided an interpretation at odds with the then dominant “Old Left” historiography. It is argued that, in addition to Denis Murphy’s efforts, there were four complex and unstable factors behind this flowering: initial support from Queensland Labor, senior mentors (notably Roger Joyce and Colin Hughes), a favourably inclined University of Queensland Press manager and a reservoir of labour history theses. While these factors underpinned publications between 1966 and 1983, by the latter date their impetus was largely exhausted. Subsequent advances occurred in less propitious circumstances.

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*The author would like to thankLabour History’stwo anonymous referees as well as Andrew Moore, John Shields and Carl Power for their encouragement over the four year period associated with the original submission, recrafting, resubmission and eventual publication. Google Scholar

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85.Strachan did her Honours degree under Murphy in 1972. Bowden completed an Honours degree in the Department between 1973 and 1977, although his thesis was on anti-colonial revolutions. Penrose completed a PhD thesis on the Communist Party of Australia in the Department in1993. Google Scholar

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Author details

Bowden, Bradley