Impact Studios

Australia’s no 1 university for research impact

Host:  Dr Tamson Pietsch

Producer: Sarah Mashman with additional production from Allison Chan

Executive Producer: Emma Lancaster

Executive Story Consultant and Script Editor: Belinda Lopez

Sound Engineer and Composition: Output Media

Collaborating UTS academic:  Professor Claude Roux, Director of the Centre for Forensic Science, University of Technology Sydney

Illustrator: Dinalie Dabarera

Digital media: Benjamin Vozzo

Podcast playlist


Reading the signs

February 17 · 38 MIN


When was the last time you were asked to sign something and did you stop to think how the strange squiggly mark you make on a page could be used?


The signature is a performative act, crucial to the law’s way of knowing, but it’s also been used as an instrument of power and control.


In this episode of History Lab we hear from a boy who was stolen, the man who took him away and the Judge who was asked to decide if a mother’s thumbprint was a sign of consent.


The presence or absence of a signature on a legal document can speak volumes and throughout history Aboriginal people have been reclaiming this marker of individual identity to represent the many and speak back to an empire.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this episode contains the voices and names of deceased persons.



Making a fortune

February 03 · 34 MIN

‘Making a Fortune’ looks at the popularity and persecution of two of the most formidable fortune tellers of Federation Australia.


In the first decade of the 20th century, Australians were focused on the future. It was the dawn of a new century, and a newly-formed nation. But during this time, police were cracking down on a booming industry dominated by women—it was a service that society deemed superstitious, archaic and fraudulent and one that is unlawful to this day in some parts of Australia. This is a story of entrepreneurship, independence and the force of the law.


Why were these female fortune tellers so aggressively pursued by the police and how did they use the law to fight back?


Bonus Cast – The Law’s Way of Knowing?

December 18 · 31 MIN

History Lab host Dr Tamson Pietsch hands over the mic to Dr Alecia Simmonds, an interdisciplinary scholar of law and history at the University of Technology Sydney. In this bonus episode they dissect how it is the law ‘knows’ and discuss how both history and the law rely on traces from the past to draw conclusions in the present. If truth is uncertain in historical archives – is it even harder to find in the courtroom?


Season 3 of History Lab will be taking a short break returning February 4 2020.

Episode two ‘Making a fortune’ is dropping in the new year with Dr Alana Piper from the Australian Centre for Public History.