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Traversing the Divide »

Honouring Deborah Cass’s Contributions to Public and International Law

Edited by: Kim Rubenstein
Publication date: March 2021
‘While devoting fine attention to the stuff of everyday life, Deborah Cass was also a brilliant scholar. Although the deep sense of loss and sadness at Deborah’s death remains, it is wonderful to have her writings as a continuing source of inspiration and consolation. In them, we continue to hear Deborah’s firm, clear voice, her appreciation of language, her seriousness, her curiosity, her sensitivity and her wry humour.’ —Professor Hilary Charlesworth This collection honours the work of Deborah Cass, 15 February 1960 – 4 June 2013, a brilliant Australian constitutional and international lawyer. Deborah studied at the University of Melbourne and Harvard Law School and taught at Melbourne Law School, The Australian National University and the London School of Economics. A member of The Australian National University’s Centre for International and Public Law from 1993 to 2000, Deborah’s work offered illuminating new perspectives in a range of fields, from the right to self-determination, critical international legal theory, and feminist legal theory to the international trade law system. The title of this edited collection draws on one of her articles, ‘Traversing the Divide: International Law and Australian Constitutional Law’ (1998) 20 Adelaide Law Review 73. This book evolves from a symposium held to draw together academics from around the globe to reflect on Deborah’s extensive scholarship and contributions to public law and international law, and to examine how her work is of value to current domestic and international law issues. The pieces selected for this volume both remind us of Deborah’s outstanding academic career and provide important insights on current public law and international law pressing issues.

The China Alternative »

Changing Regional Order in the Pacific Islands

Publication date: March 2021
In this collection, 17 leading scholars based in Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and China analyse key dimensions of the changing relationship between China and the Pacific Islands and explore the strategic, economic and diplomatic implications for regional actors. The China Alternative includes chapters on growing great power competition in the region, as well as the response to China’s rise by the US and its Western allies and the island countries themselves. Other chapters examine key dimensions of China’s Pacific engagement, including Beijing’s programs of aid and diplomacy, as well as the massive investments of the Belt and Road Initiative. The impact of China’s rivalry for recognition with Taiwan is examined, and several chapters analyse Chinese communities in the Pacific, and their relationships with local societies. The China Alternative provides ample material for informed judgements about the ability of island leaders to maintain their agency in the changing regional order, as well as other issues of significance to the peoples of the region. ‘China’s “discovery” of the diverse Pacific islands, intriguingly resonant of the era of European explorers, is impacting on this too-long-overlooked region through multiple currents that this important book guides us through.’ —Rowan Callick, Griffith University ‘The China Alternative is a must-read for all students and practitioners interested in understanding the new geopolitics of the Pacific. It assembles a stellar cast of Pacific scholars to deeply explore the impact of the changing role of China on the Pacific islands region. Significantly, it also puts the Pacific island states at the centre of this analysis by questioning the collective agency they might have in this rapidly evolving strategic context.’ —Greg Fry, The Australian National University

At Home in Exile »

A Memoir

Authored by: Helga M Griffin
Publication date: February 2021
This is a story of a girl’s construction of her identity, and of her family’s search for a place in the world, for the Heimat that is so resonant for those of German background. We follow Helga through an adventurous childhood in Iran, whose vast open spaces her mother called ‘my spiritual home’. Her engineer father worked on a grand scale, designing and laying roads and railways, and tunnelling through mountain ranges. Then came the invasions of World War II, and the family, half-German, half-Austrian, found themselves on a long voyage to Australia, designated enemy aliens. They were interned for nearly five years in the dusty Victorian countryside. On their release at the end of the War, stranded in Melbourne, they sought another home. The children were dispatched to convents, and at the Academy of Mary Immaculate, Helga found a temporary homeland, in faith. Everyday life in the Australia of the late 1940s and early 1950s is freshly seen by this feisty, loving migrant family. Through their eyes, we encounter a strange place, Australia, as if for the first time. Helga’s development from a thoughtful, sensitive child to a self-possessed young woman, wrestling with her faith and with how to live a decent life, is vividly recounted.

Made in China Journal: Volume 5, Issue 3, 2020 »

Publication date: February 2021
China’s increased global engagements in recent years have been the source of unending controversies. While public attention generally focuses on geopolitical, economic or even environmental issues, labour also plays an important part in emerging narratives surrounding the ‘spectre of global China’. The media in countries that have received a significant influx of investment from mainland China has often complained about ‘invasions’ of Chinese workers, who are allegedly snatching away job opportunities from local workers. In many places, there are pervasive rumours that Chinese workers are nothing less than convicted felons sent abroad by the Party-State to expiate their crimes, which would explain why they seem to work without interruption day and night, at a pace that some believe no free person would deem acceptable. This has also led to concerns that workers from China are playing an important role in driving down labour standards in countries where institutions are weak and legal enforcement lacking. Inflows of Chinese workers have also been associated with surges in crime and prostitution that supposedly have wrought havoc on local communities. In the best of circumstances, these narratives flatten the figure of the Chinese worker abroad into that of an agent unwittingly promoting the agenda of the Chinese Party-State abroad; in the worst, they frame these overseas Chinese labourers as criminals. In so doing, the complex dilemmas that these workers face, their inner conflicts and the rights violations that they themselves are subjected to go unnoticed. This issue challenges these prejudices and provides some glimpses into the subjectivities and the plight of Chinese workers toiling abroad today.

Australian Travellers in the South Seas »

Authored by: Nicholas Halter
Publication date: February 2021
This book offers a wide-ranging survey of Australian engagement with the Pacific Islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through over 100 hitherto largely unexplored accounts of travel, the author explores how representations of the Pacific Islands in letters, diaries, reminiscences, books, newspapers and magazines contributed to popular ideas of the Pacific Islands in Australia. It offers a range of valuable insights into continuities and changes in Australian regional perspectives, showing that ordinary Australians were more closely connected to the Pacific Islands than has previously been acknowledged. Addressing the theme of travel as a historical, literary and imaginative process, this cultural history probes issues of nation and empire, race and science, commerce and tourism by focusing on significant episodes and encounters in history. This is a foundational text for future studies of Australia’s relations with the Pacific, and histories of travel generally.

Refugee Journeys »

Histories of Resettlement, Representation and Resistance

Publication date: February 2021
Refugee Journeys presents stories of how governments, the public and the media have responded to the arrival of people seeking asylum, and how these responses have impacted refugees and their lives. Mostly covering the period from 1970 to the present, the chapters provide readers with an understanding of the political, social and historical contexts that have brought us to the current day. This engaging collection of essays also considers possible ways to break existing policy deadlocks, encouraging readers to imagine a future where we carry vastly different ideas about refugees, government policies and national identities.

Britain’s Second Embassy to China »

Lord Amherst's 'Special Mission' to the Jiaqing Emperor in 1816

Authored by: Caroline Stevenson
Publication date: February 2021
Lord Amherst’s diplomatic mission to the Qing Court in 1816 was the second British embassy to China. The first led by Lord Macartney in 1793 had failed to achieve its goals. It was thought that Amherst had better prospects of success, but the intense diplomatic encounter that greeted his arrival ended badly. Amherst never appeared before the Jiaqing emperor and his embassy was expelled from Peking on the day it arrived. Historians have blamed Amherst for this outcome, citing his over-reliance on the advice of his Second Commissioner, Sir George Thomas Staunton, not to kowtow before the emperor. Detailed analysis of British sources reveal that Amherst was well informed on the kowtow issue and made his own decision for which he took full responsibility. Success was always unlikely because of irreconcilable differences in approach. China’s conduct of foreign relations based on the tributary system required submission to the emperor, thus relegating all foreign emissaries and the rulers they represented to vassal status, whereas British diplomatic practice was centred on negotiation and Westphalian principles of equality between nations. The Amherst embassy’s failure revised British assessments of China and led some observers to believe that force, rather than diplomacy, might be required in future to achieve British goals. The Opium War of 1840 that followed set a precedent for foreign interference in China, resulting in a century of ‘humiliation’. This resonates today in President Xi Jinping’s call for ‘National Rejuvenation’ to restore China’s historic place at the centre of a new Sino-centric global order.

Unequal Lives »

Gender, Race and Class in the Western Pacific

Publication date: January 2021
As we move further into the twenty-first century, we are witnessing both the global extensification and local intensification of inequality. Unequal Lives deals with the particular dilemmas of inequality in the Western Pacific. The authors focus on four dimensions of inequality: the familiar triad of gender, race and class, and the often-neglected dimension of generation. Grounded in meticulous long-term ethnographic enquiry and deep awareness of the historical contingency of these configurations of inequality, this volume illustrates the multidimensional, multiscale and epistemic nature of contemporary inequality. This collection is a major contribution to academic and political debates about the perverse effects of inequality, which now ranks among the greatest challenges of our time. The inspiration for this volume derives from the breadth and depth of Martha Macintyre’s remarkable scholarship. The contributors celebrate Macintyre’s groundbreaking work, which exemplifies the explanatory power, ethical force and pragmatism that ensures the relevance of anthropological research to the lives of others and to understanding the global condition. ‘Unequal Lives is an impressive collection by Melanesianist anthropologists with reputations for theoretical sophistication, ethnographic imagination and persuasive writing. It brilliantly illuminates all aspects of the multifaceted scholarship of Martha Macintyre, whose life and teaching are also highlighted in the commentaries, tributes and interview included in the volume.’ — Robert J. Foster, Professor of Anthropology and Visual and Cultural Studies, Richard L. Turner Professor of Humanities, University of Rochester ‘Inspired by Martha Macintyre’s work, the contributors to Unequal Lives show that to theorise inequality is a measured project, one that requires rescaling its exercise over several decades in order to recognise the reality of inequality as it is known in social relations and to document it critically, unravelling their own readiness to misjudge what they see from the lives that are lived by the people with whom they have lived and studied. This fine volume shows how the ordinariness of everyday work and care can be a chimera wherein the apparent reality of inequality might mislead less critical reports to obscure its very account. From reading it, we learn that such unrelenting questioning of what makes lives unequal becomes the very analytic for better understanding lives as they are lived.’ — Karen M. Sykes, Professor of Anthropology, University of Manchester

Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform: Volume 27, Number 1, 2020 »

Edited by: William Coleman
Publication date: December 2020
Agenda is a refereed, ECONLIT-indexed and RePEc-listed journal of the College of Business and Economics, The Australian National University. Launched in 1994, Agenda provides a forum for debate on public policy, mainly (but not exclusively) in Australia and New Zealand. It deals largely with economic issues but gives space to social and legal policy and also to the moral and philosophical foundations and implications of policy. Subscribe to the Agenda Alerting service if you wish to be advised on forthcoming or new issues.

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 43 »

Edited by: Ingereth Macfarlane
Publication date: December 2020
Volume 43 opens with an unexpectedly timely essay. Tom Gara’s study of the influenza epidemic that reached Australia in 1919 expands consideration of its global effects to include the poorly documented impacts on Aboriginal people in South Australia. The study was written and finalised to mark the centenary, prior to the advent of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. In this dramatically altered context, Gara’s evidence becomes significantly comparative as well as an account of an under-researched aspect of past infectious disease spread. Annemarie McLaren’s article poses questions about the differing assumptions Aboriginal men and colonists made about their earliest travels together in country around Sydney Cove in 1791. McLaren interrogates Watkin Tench’s and John Hunter’s accounts of their joint travels with Colebee and Balloderry to explore how ‘guiding’ relationships first developed between Aboriginal people and expeditionary parties in New South Wales. Grace Karskens’ conversation with Mark McKenna about her engagement with the story of Nah Doong, a nineteenth-century Aboriginal woman living in colonial Penrith, NSW, offers ‘a masterclass in how to write history’. Careful reading against the grain brings Nah Doong’s experience alive in a rare, fleshed-out biographical picture of an individual woman. ‘Big John Dodo’ (c. 1910–2003) is respected as a ceremonial and cultural leader for Karajarri country, south of Broome, WA. Darren Jorgensen draws on family and personal interviews to re-position John Dodo Nangkiriny’s ‘transitional’ art forms, which do not emulate pre-colonial or contemporary forms and are produced with new materials. Beth Marsden provides a close reading of the campaign to resist construction of a ‘transit village’ in Morwell, Victoria, in the 1960s, illuminating various strands of assimilationist policy as well as multilayered political and grassroots resistance. Tim Rowse and Barry Leithhead re-examine the underlying assumptions held by Dr Cecil Cook in his career as a Northern Territory administrator and commentator (1925–69). Demonstrating the relationship between racial thought and liberalism in Cook’s policies and advocacy, they argue that Cook’s common function as a shorthand for ‘ideologies, policies and practices of government that seem at best misguided and at worst cruel and racist’ needs re-evaluation. In addition to a wide range of book reviews, this volume also has a review of the important Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters exhibition.