Colonial history researcher awarded prestigious fellowship

1 November 2019
A Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the University of Sydney's Department of History has been granted $20,000 to investigate the history of monetary relations between colonial Australia and the rest of the world, and consider how this resonates today.

Dr Ben Huf, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Laureate Research Program in International History in the Department of History, has been awarded a coveted research fellowship. 

The recipient of one of six fellowships granted by the State Library of NSW – the $20,000 Dr AM Hertzberg AO Fellowship – Dr Huf will use it to work on his project Colonial Liquidity: Making money in early New South Wales.

Drawing on the Library’s extensive collection of early promissory notes and currency, he will explore how Australia’s monetary system – the foundation of the colony’s economy – evolved over time and integrated nineteenth-century Australia into the British and world economies. He is particularly interested in the hierarchical relations that developed between colonists, bankers, merchants and London financiers with the innovation of new credit networks.

These are important stories to tell when banks worldwide are again under renewed scrutiny
Dr Ben Huf

Dr Huf, who specialises in nineteenth-century international economic history, intellectual history and the history of the British Empire, said he hopes the project will help continue the renewed interest in histories of Australian capitalism.

“Historising our financial systems is crucial in recognising the powerful and politicised role banking and credit plays in our everyday lives,” he said. “These are important stories to tell when banks worldwide are again under renewed scrutiny.”

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History Ben Huf

Dr Huf will use his fellowship to research how Australia's colonial economy became integrated with that of Britain and the world.

Dr AM Hertzberg AO Fellowship  

The Dr AM Hertzberg AO Fellowship was established in 2018 and will support research into any aspect of the social, cultural and political history of industry and manufacturing in Australia, from colonisation to today, drawing on the resources of the State Library of NSW and any relevant archives or collections in other cultural institutions or companies.

State Librarian John Vallance explained the purpose of the institution’s fellowships generally: “The State Library of NSW is committed to supporting original research that challenges what we know about our past and provides new ideas and fresh perspectives on Australia’s documented history.”

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