Series 3 Episode 7: Carla Pascoe Leahy on connecting the past and future in the Anthropocene

Carla Pascoe Leahy recently joined the University of Tasmania as a Lecturer in Family History. She is a contemporary historian who examines how the past lives on in the present, particularly through oral history interviews. Carla recently completed an Australian Research Council funded project on the history of Australian mothering over the past 75 years, looking at the extent to which first-time motherhood is transformative. Her latest research examines the ways in which climate change is shifting understandings and experiences of family: both in terms of reproductive decision-making and daily practices of child-rearing. Mother to two headstrong daughters and one unruly pup, Carla maintains strong connections to community and nature in her coastal town in regional Victoria.

Historian Carla Pascoe Leahy was surprised at how her own experiences of new motherhood were affected by the relationships and stories she was told by her own mother and grandmothers. In this episode, she talks about how learning about her past led to researching the experience of birth in Australia over the last 75 years. Carla discusses the importance of her local community, what she’s learned about being vulnerable as a researcher and how climate change is influencing mothering.

Carla’s website has extensive links to her work, but here are a few highlights below.

Carla Pascoe Leahy and Petra Bueskens (eds), Australian Mothering: Historical and Sociological Perspectives (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019),
Kristine Moruzi, Nell Musgrove and Carla Pascoe Leahy (eds), Children’s Voices from the Past: New Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019),

C. Pascoe Leahy, ‘The afterlife of interviews: explicit ethics and subtle ethics in sensitive or distressing qualitative research’, Qualitative Research (2021),
C. Pascoe Leahy, ‘Maternal heritage: remembering mothering and motherhood through material culture’, International Journal of Heritage Studies (2021),
C. Pascoe Leahy, ‘The mother within: Intergenerational influences upon Australian matrescence since 1945’, Past & Present Supplement 15 (2020) 263-294,

Carla Pascoe Leahy, ‘Maternal metamorphosis: how mothering has changed in Australia since the second world war’, The Conversation, 17 January 2022
Carla Pascoe Leahy, ‘Looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift? Why not smash the patriarchy’, The Conversation, 7 May 2021
Carla Pascoe Leahy, ‘Childhood masked’, Arena Online, 8 October 2020
Carla Pascoe Leahy, ‘Eudaimonia: meditations on pandemic life’, Arena Online, 3 September 2020
Carla Pascoe Leahy, ‘‘Helicopter parenting’ and ‘tiger mothers’? Relax, Australian kids are alright’, The Conversation, 31 December 2019 


Music in this episode includes ‘Tympanum’ by REW<<, ‘Can We Be Friends’ by Lobo Loco, ‘Untitled’ by Atlas Sound and ‘Dark Water’ by Nul Tiel Records, used under a Creative Commons license from Free Music Archive.