2010 History Lectures

Australia & the World

July 31

Why was Fascism Unsuccessful in 1930s Australia?

Andrew Moore

Well known for his work into the extremist movements known as the New Guard and its secretive predecessor the Old Guard, Andrew Moore will discuss his latest research into the views of journalist Eric Baume, who was ’embedded’ with the New Guard in the thirties. Baume concluded that ‘in any other country but Australia this militarist mumbo-jumbo might have succeeded in causing a revolution’. Moore will consider the implications of this assessment. Did the sound common sense and pragmatism of Australians immunise them against the attractions of fascism?


Aug 14

‘Perverts & Degenerates’: Art & a Nation in Revolt

Steven Miller

The 1939 Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art created a controversy which has become a legend. Opening when Australia was undergoing profound change not only in art, but also in literature, politics and economics, it became the focus of opposing forces: conservatives were accused of perverting progress and progressives were accused of degeneracy.


Aug 28

Large Allies and Small Wars: the Australian Experience since 1948 

Robert O’Neill

Since the Second World War, Australia has been involved in six wars, all as a lesser ally of the major belligerents. Robert O’Neill will explore whether this participation served Australia’s interests. Who decided on our participation and why? Why were our major allies keen to have our support? How much influence did we have on the conduct of these wars, and did we make a difference? What do service people think about putting their lives on the line in such conflicts? What lessons can we learn for the future?


Sep 12The 2nd Vere Gordon Childe Annual Lecture (An official History Week event)

Drawing the Global Colour Line

Henry Reynolds

Professor Reynolds will show how the self-styled ‘white men’s countries’ in South Africa, North America and Australasia worked together to exclude people they defined as not-white and how Australia emerged as a pace-setter in the modern global politics of ‘whiteness’.


Sep 25

Australian Rearmament & Appeasement, 1939-1941

David Bird

Australian external policy before the Second World War was marked by a pattern  of appeasement. David Bird traces its course from the first years of the Lyons government to its final gasp under Menzies as war-time leader. He will canvas the varied motives of conservative Australian appeasers such as Joe and Edith Lyons,  William Casey, Robert Menzies, Stanley Bruce and Billy Hughes. together with the attitudes of Labor.


Oct 9

Constructing Race through Popular Theatre in Australia before 1914

Richard Waterhouse

Nineteenth century Australians were devoted theatregoers. By tracing the racial stereotypes of African-Americans, Chinese and (less often) Aborigines in songs, skits and vaudeville,  Professor Waterhouse will reveal how they became harder and less humane as Christian sentimentalism gave way to the influence of social Darwinism. And yet, simultaneously, some visiting black performers found Australia such a haven of tolerance that they settled here.


Oct 23


Paul Ham

‘Surely God weeps,’ an Australian soldier wrote in despair of the conflict in Vietnam. The ten year struggle in the rice paddies and jungles of South Vietnam unleashed the most devastating firepower on the Vietnamese nation. Yet the Australian experience was very different from that of the Americans. Guided by their commanders’ knowledge of jungle combat, Australian troops operated with stealth, deception and restraint to pursue a ‘better war’. Five hundred Australian soldiers were killed and thousands wounded. Those who made it home returned to a hostile and ignorant country and a reception that scarred them forever.

Share on...