Newcastle is Australia’s leading regional centre, one of Australia’s oldest cities, the world’s busiest coal port and the hub of urban services including high level health care and tertiary education for the residents of the Hunter Valley – Lake Macquarie – Central Coast Region. It has achieved this status through a long history of nurturing connections with markets, homelands and cultures around the globe.
The Global Newcastle Research Network examines these transnational connections, challenging the frequently made assumption that Australia’s capital cities were the sole entry and exit points for international exchanges. Through historical studies of the broad networks of people, knowledge and goods in which Newcastle has played a part, we seek to restore agency to the city’s residents and reveal the role of regional cities in the dynamic interactions which have created the modern Australian nation.
Our Research Network brings together academic historians, city librarians, archivists and other cultural researchers. The foundation for our investigations is the collections of text, image and manuscripts held in the Newcastle Public Library, and a key aim is to enhance the accessibility of these collections to local, national and global visitors via digitisation and public outreach.
Through our work, the Global Newcastle Research Network brings a new perspective to histories of Newcastle. The Global Newcastle project challenges limited ideas about possible futures for Newcastle by demonstrating that in the past and present, the city has been integrated in global flows of capital, people and ideas. In collaborating on this project, public and private enterprises in Newcastle not only help to achieve a better future through knowledge of the regional past, but contribute to new understandings of how regions can continue to forge direct transnational connections unmediated by interests based in metropolitan centres.
[Header image detail courtesy of Angela Armstrong and Living Histories @UON]