Publication Date



Labour and economics are traditional strengths of Australian history, though in recent decades cultural history has instead dominated historical practice. This article discusses the relationship between the economic and cultural in Australian history, utilising our own research as case studies that explore reasons to combine the structural and discursive. Inspired by settler colonial studies and other developments internationally, we propose a new historical materialism for Australian history. In particular, we argue for an increased attention to economic questions and data in combination with cultural history sources and analysis; for the greater historicisation of capitalism as itself a specific and contingent phenomenon; and for the application of Marxist tools, without discarding the lessons of the cultural turn and their specific value to Australian history.


School of Arts

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

Grant Number



This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Australian Historical Studies on 2017, available online: