Innovation in History: A symposium on ‘new approaches’ to the practice of history

On 11 October the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies helped host a symposium, “New Approaches to the Practice of History,” that brought together researchers from China and Australia. The symposium was one of a series of four being held under the auspices of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Not everyone stuck to the theme, but the audience was treated at least to a great diversity of topics, ranging from Wu Wenling’s exposition of bamboo-strip writings to David Goodman’s presentation on radio-listening as an agent of democracy. Founding members of AAHub, including Antonia Finnane, the convenor of the conference; Anne McLaren, who chaired the first panel; Xavier Ma and Shan Windscript, who served as facilitators and interpreters; and – in the audience – Kate McGregor and Andy May.

PhD students Xavier Ma (seated first right) and Shan Windscript (standing second right) were recruited to help with the visit of the CASS historians. Among the rewards: a trip to the beach following the conclusion of the symposium.

The CASS delegates, seated, with fellow-participants at the end of the symposium.

Henry Yu lecture

As part of the Australia in the World History Lecture & Seminar Series, Henry Yu will deliver a public lecture on the topic of “The Cantonese Pacific: Unsettling the Narratives of Settler Societies” on 26 November.

Professor Henry Yu examines the ways in which nation-building narratives and the political movements on which they were based in Australia, New Zealand, and the western territories of Canada and the United States used anti-Chinese and anti-Asian exclusion to cohere national belonging around white supremacy and how in overcoming racial exclusion and discrimination, a complex history of interaction between Chinese migrants, indigenous peoples and other migrants has been recovered that promises (and threatens) to remake our understandings of the modern Pacific world and the white settler nations that emerged from the British empire.

Henry Yu is Principal of St. John’s College and Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, where his research and teaching aims to provide perspectives on global migration history as a means of unsettling the national historiographies of settler societies. With Professor Peter Ward he worked on an SSHRC-funded project to create a digital database of approximately 96,000 Chinese Canadians who paid the discriminatory Head Tax between 1885-1923. Professor Yu’s first book Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact and Exoticism in Modern America (Oxford University Press, 2001) won the Norris and Carol Hundley Prize at the AHA for Most Distinguished Book of 2001. He has published numerous studies of ‘Pacific Canada’ which will also be the focus on his next book.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

5.00pm – 6.00pm

Theatre A, Old Arts Building, The University of Melbourne

Admission is free. Bookings are required. Seating is limited.

To register visit:


Rewriting the story of the 1965 tragedy

‘Momentum is currently growing’, notes graduate student Jess Melvin in an article in the Jakarta Post on 30 September, ‘around the need for an historical reckoning of the Indonesian genocide’. Joshua Oppenheimer’s film The Act of Killing has just been released for free download in Indonesia, and Jess argues that an official government apology will be an important part of the reconciliation process.