The Embassy of Australia generously hosted the 2017 meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Studies Association of North America (ANZSANA) February 22-24. This year’s meeting drew scholars from countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Canada, India, and South Africa. Participants represented over thirty institutions of higher learning, including the University of Virginia’s Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, as well as Australia’s National Portrait Gallery, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the U.S. Department of Energy. The proceedings featured two keynote addresses—one by Penny Russell, Professor of History at the University of Sydney and current occupant of the Harvard Chair in Australian Studies, and another by Michael McRobbie, President of Indiana University. On Thursday evening, participants gathered in the Embassy’s Main Hall for a dinner and an address by the Honorable Ambassador Joe Hockey. Parallel panels ran throughout both days of the conference, during which time 40 papers were presented. Reflecting ANZSANA’s interdisciplinary nature, they considered a wide variety of topics spanning art, film and television, history, politics, law, and public policy.
The 2017 annual meeting illustrates the three key roles that ANZSANA plays in the field of Australian and New Zealand studies. First, the Association serves as an important hub in the network of University-based organizations whose work focuses on Australian and New Zealand themes. The Committee for Australian Studies at Harvard University not only supported Professor Penny Russell’s participation this year, but it has also pledged to support the participation of Harvard Chairs in future ANZSANA meetings. ANZSANA welcomed back Marilyn Lake, the 2001-02 Harvard Chair and Professor of History at the University of Melbourne. In addition, both the Center for Australian, New Zealand, and Pacific Studies at Georgetown University and the Clark Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies at UT-Austin provided financial and institutional support for the gathering, and their respective Directors, Alan Tidwell and Rhonda Evans, participated in the conference proceedings.
Second, the Association provides a platform for scholars who have been awarded major research grants. The Fulbright Program was especially well-represented, with six participants presenting research that was supported by Fulbright. Chris Dixon, a current Fulbright Scholar who’s spending the spring semester in residence at the Clark Center at UT-Austin, delivered a paper about the experiences of African-American servicemen who served in Australia during World War II. Paul Secunda, Professor of Law at Marquette Law School and recipient of the Senior Fulbright Scholar Award for 2015-2016, presented his research into the strengths and weaknesses of Australia’s superannuation program. Connections between the cattle cultures of Texas and Queensland served as the focus of Leland Turner’s presentation. Turner is an Associate Professor of History at Midwestern State University and a 2007 Fulbright Scholar. Deborah Widiss, Associate Professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University – Bloomington, presented a paper on Australia’s paid parental leave policy, the project that she will pursue at the University of Melbourne in 2018. Michael Jensen, an attorney with the US Department of Energy, gave a paper on climate change policy that drew upon his experience as a Fulbright Professional Scholar. And finally, Alex Carter, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, presented his work on 1970s-era Aboriginal activism in Australia that derived from research he conducted as a Fulbrighter in 2013-14.
Participants also presented research that enjoyed support from various other sources. Victoria Grieves, University of Sydney, delivered a paper derived from her larger project, Children of War: Australia and the War in the Pacific 1941-1944, which has been supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous Project grant. Jesse Barker Gale, a PhD Candidate in American Studies at Flinders University, presented his work on security policy. A 2016 recipient of an Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship, he is spending the academic year at Georgetown University’s Center for Australian, New Zealand, and Pacific Studies and serving as a research fellow in the office of US Representative Jim McDermott (D-Washington). The National Science Foundation supported Dana Dolan’s research concerning environmental policy in Australia as well as that of Daniella McCahey into the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. McCahey’s work was also funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand, the American Institute of Physics, the Newkirk Center for Science and Society, and both the Humanities Commons and the History Department of the University of California-Irvine.
And third, ANZSANA continued its tradition of cultivating young scholars by providing graduate students with opportunities to present their research. This year over a dozen graduate students participated, eleven of whom received travel grants provided by the Association. In addition, DC-based Emily Rohles, a recent graduate of UT-Austin, presented research on “Question Time” in New Zealand’s Parliament that she conducted as a Clark Scholar in 2015-16. ANZSANA was especially pleased to welcome back Dr. Maura Capps, winner of last year’s award for the best graduate student paper and now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.
ANZSANA President Krista Maglen, Associate Professor of History at Indiana University -Bloomington, deserves special thanks for all the creative energy, time, and effort that she put into planning the conference. Leland Turner, ANZSANA’s Vice-President, and Rhonda Evans, ANZSANA’s Treasurer-Secretary provided valuable support. The Association also owes a considerable debt of gratitude to the Embassy’s staff, particularly Dana Robertson (Public Affairs), Sally Mouakkad, Deputy Director (Industry & Science), for all her on-the-ground-assistance, and Anthony Murfett, Minister Counsellor (Industry, Science and Education), for his support.
Stay tuned for information about ANZSANA’s 2018 annual meeting!