Landmark history conference examines Australasia

August 23, 2013

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Pacific War Memorial, Corregidor Island, Philippines

A first-of-its-kind conference hosted by Murdoch University is drawing together a ‘who’s who’ of Australian academics working in the area of Australasian history.

Running August 27–28, What Difference Does a War Make? Reconfiguring Australasia, 1930-1960 is intended to further debate and discussion on the regional historical relationship, focussing in particular on ‘turning points’ in the period around the Second World War.

“In light of the Asian Century, we saw a need to engage with Asia specialists and bring them together to look at how the war and events before and after helped lead us to where we are today. Surprisingly, this had never really been done before,” said conference organiser Dr Dean Aszkielowicz.

“Topics are wide-ranging, from the war’s effect on the iron ore industry in Western Australia to perspectives on Australian POWs and Japanese war criminals and the impact of Hiroshima on how we regard the nature of war.”

Dr Aszkielowicz said some views could prove contentious, as interpretations of historical events and outcomes didn’t always fit popular conceptions.

“Quite a few of our speakers are re-evaluating accepted views of the war, which is always provocative. For example, Dr Agnieszka Sobocinska from Monash University is taking issue with the turning point model of history, arguing that there is a much deeper narrative in how our ties with Asia have evolved,” Dr  Aszkielowicz said.

Murdoch presenters include: Dr Aszkielowicz, who will talk about Australia’s Pursuit of Korean and Formosan ‘Japanese’ War Criminals; Dr James Boyd, who will explore Japan’s reported plan to crossbreed the Merino sheep with an Inner Mongolian breed to challenge Australia’s dominance of the world wool market in the 1930s; and Professor Sandra Wilson, who will look at how the war affected Japanese nationalism.

All sessions will be held in the Brian Hill Lecture Theatre on Murdoch University’s South Street Campus. Staff, students and the public are welcome to attend. Please RSVP to Dr Dean Aszkielowicz.

To see a list of presenters, go here.

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