Joshua Oppenheimer in Conversation

It is with great excitement that we can now confirm the details for the upcoming event with award winning documentary film maker Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing/ The Look of Silence) at the University of Melbourne.

Joshua Oppenheimer will hold an exclusive Q & A with ABC Radio National’s Jason Di Rosso on Tuesday, 11 August, 1- 2.30pm @ the open stage, 757 Swanston St (cnr. Grattan St).

This is a free event but seats are limited so please arrive early to guarantee your seat.

If possible, it would be really wonderful if you could help us promote this event, which is sponsored by the SHAPS Asia History Hub, the Melbourne University Indonesia Forum and the Herb Feith Foundation, to your students and fellow colleagues.

In addition to sticking up posters for the event, we are hoping to post details of the event through the LMS system and to spruik the event in lectures. We would be most grateful if you could help us spread the word.


A trailer for The Look of Silence can be viewed at:

The Look of Silence will have three screenings at the Melbourne International Film Festival:

In addition to his appearance at the university, Joshua will also be speaking at the Melbourne International Film festival. This event is co-sponsored by the Melbourne University Indonesia forum and the Herb Feith Foundation.

For details:


Please help us to get the word out!

Many thanks,

Jess Melvin

Event: Towards Reconciliation: Indonesia and East Timor 40 Years On, 4 June 2014

Indonesia Forum, Asian History Hub, the University of Melbourne & Herb Feith Foundation present

Towards Reconciliation: Indonesia and East Timor 40 Years On

Date: 4 June 2015

Panel Discussion: 4pm-6pm

Lecture: 6.30-7.45pm

Multi-Function Room, 1888 Building (198) (rear),

The University of Melbourne, Parkville

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. To reflect on this anniversary the Indonesia Forum and the Asian History Hub (both at the University of Melbourne) and the Herb Feith Foundation will host a panel discussion and a lecture on the afternoon/ evening of June 4, 2015.

In the afternoon discussion panel Associate Professor Michael Leach (Swinburne University), Dr Vannessa Hearman (Sydney University), PhD candidate Hannah Loney (University of Melbourne) and East Timorese postgraduate student Fransedes Suni (RMIT) will speak on histories of activism concerning the Indonesian occupation and the steps Indonesians and East Timorese have taken towards reconciliation since Timor-Leste’s independence in 1999.

This will be followed by a lecture entitled ‘Thunder in the Silent Zone: the Chega! and Per Memoriam Reports in Indonesia’ by activist Pat Walsh, former advisor to the CAVR, focusing on the official Indonesian and East Timorese reports on how to deal with the legacies of the occupation and pre independence violence.

Following the publication of the CAVR report (Chega!) in Indonesia, Pat Walsh has spent several months discussing it and the 2008 joint Indonesia/Timor-Leste report Per Memoriam Ad Spem with universities and think tanks in Indonesia in the context of reclaiming Indonesia’s wider past history and addressing victims’ rights. He has found that residual Soeharto era misrepresentations and denial continue at official levels to the detriment of the truth, reconciliation and victims, but that a new generation of Indonesian intellectuals are open to a different narrative on East Timor when it is put to them.

Refreshments will be served before the lecture

RSVP: 1 June 2015

To register:

Printed ticket is not necessary for entry.

AHHub Morning Tea, Friday 24 April

Asian History Hub Morning Tea, 11 a.m., Room 509, 757 Swanston St, Friday, 24 April.

The AHHub team would like to use this occasion to meet new people at the university with interests in the history of Asia, and to engage in a roundtable conversation about fieldwork and overseas research for students of Asian history.

Please RSVP to Shan Windscript at by 23 April if you would like to attend.

At the 2015 AAS Conference in Chicago

Braving a cold early-spring in Chicago, a number of staff, students and alumni of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, made their journey across the Pacific to attend the annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), which was held on March 26-29.

PhD student Shan Windscript assembled a panel on “Life Writing in Modern Asia,” exploring the Self and histories in personal narratives of Japan, China and Malaysia. The cross-border panel included a paper by Jason Sze Chieh Ng, a PhD candidate in the School, entitled: “Jungle Lives: Malaya As Depicted in Malayan Communist Memoirs.” Shan Windscript also presented a paper: “Making Revolutionary Selves: Diaries, Diary Writing, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.” 



Associate Professor Katharine McGregor convened two invited panels at the AAS conference profiling recent research on the 1965 anti communist violence in Indonesia. She was invited by the Southeast Asia Council to convene these panels because of the 50th anniversary of this violence in 2015. The first panel entitledNew Research Findings and Approaches to Understanding the 1965 Anti-communist Violence in Indonesia’ featured a paper by Dr. Jess Melvin (a recently completed PhD graduate in SHAPS) entitled: Mechanics of Mass Murder: Understanding the Indonesian Genocide as a Centralised and Intentional Military Campaign’.

The second panel entitled Activism and Justice for the Survivors and Victims of the 1965 Violence in Indonesia featured our former Phd graduate Dr Vannessa Hearman (Sydney University) giving a paper entitled  ‘Extending the fight: Letterwriting in the campaign for the 1965-66 political prisoners in Indonesia’ and Associate Professor Katharine McGregor presenting a paper entitled: ‘The World Was Silent? Global Communities of Resistance to the 1965 Repression in the Cold War Era’. Both panels were attended by around 30 conference participants. 



Further to this Associate Professor Katharine McGregor has co-organised with Dr Annie Pohlman of the University of Queensland 6 panels on the 1965 violence for the Indonesia Council Open Conference to be hosted by Deakin University in Geelong on July 2 and 3, 2015.

Book Launch: Chinese Australians: Politics, Engagement and Resistance

You are warmly invited to the launch of Chinese Australians: Politics, Engagement and Resistance, edited by Sophie Couchman and Kate Bagnall.

Bringing together contributions from eleven key scholars in Chinese Australian history, the book explores how Chinese Australians have influenced the communities in which they lived on a civic or individual level. Focusing on the motivations and aspirations of their subjects, the authors draw on biography, world history, case law, newspapers and immigration case files to investigate the political worlds of Chinese Australians in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The book will be launched by Ms Nancy Gordon, Australian Consul-General in Chengdu, China.

When   Friday, 24 April at 11am

Where  Chinese Museum, 22 Cohen Place, Melbourne (behind Her Majesty’s Theatre)

RSVP     Wednesday, 22 April 2015 to or 03 9662 2888.

Books will be available for purchase on the day at a discounted rate. For more information about the book, see

The book includes a chapter by Marilyn Lake, ‘The Chinese Empire Encounters the British Empire and Its ‘Colonial Dependencies’: Melbourne, 1887′.


AHHub Workshop: Stories from the Field: Narrating Research, Developing Meaning

Asia History Hub workshop, 24 April 

Stories from the field: narrating research, developing meaning

Time:                    Friday, 24 April, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Venue:                  Room  509, 757 Swanston St Building.

Some of the greatest challenges for researchers lie in the gathering of raw material and the treatment of it in writing.  The more original the area of research, the harder the task.  Is the material relevant?  Is it saying something new?  What are you (am I) trying to say anyway? And what methods are available to help resolve these quite basic but rather complex questions?

The first event for the Asia History Hub this year is a story-telling session inspired by these reflections .  The premise is that stories create (or impose?) meaning, and bring clarity to process.

We need five volunteers to tell their stories, of whom at least three should be post-graduate students.

Your task is to spin a tale about the process of conducting research away from your usual comfort zone (desk, computer, Melbourne) .  It can be a peripatetic tale, or a romantic one, or a post-modern one, presented in fragments.

Its aim should be to draw you and your listeners closer to an understanding or a clearer view of the search you are on, where it has taken you, and how you will integrate your findings into your written work.

There will be a prize for the best story !

Aspiring story-tellers:  send a title and a broad statement to Shan <> no later than Monday, 13 April.

Antonia Finnane  (SHAPS)

Convenor, AHH

Dr. Samia Khatun: The Book of Marriage

The Book of Marriage: Beyond ‘Brideprice’ Narratives in Histories of Islam in Australia, 1860 – 1930

Dr Samia Khatun

McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Melbourne

Date: 4th March 2015, 1pm – 2.15pm

Venue: Room 224, Level 2 Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton


 Abstract: From 1860 to the mid-1920s, Muslim merchants and drivers from across British India and Afghanistan travelled to Australian shores to work in the extensive camel transportation network that underpinned the growth of capitalism in the Australian interior. While some of these men brought their South Asian wives with them, many others married white women and Aboriginal women in Australian desert towns. Utilising rich family archives spanning from Australia to British India, this paper offers an alternative to the ‘brideprice’ narrative that currently structures accounts of marriage in existing histories of the camel industry. Examining the marriage laws that the cameleers brought from British India, this paper explores the operation of Muslim personal law in Australian desert towns, alongside both settler and Aboriginal marriage laws during the era of the camel trade.

DR SAMIA KHATUN is a McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne and is collaborating with workers’ rights activists in Bangladesh to produce a 400-year history of textile workers from Mughal Bengal to contemporary Bangladesh. Taking a slices-through- time approach, Samia is investigating how workers have memorialised five key moments in the history of textile production through song and poetry, beginning with Mughal Bengal and ending with the Rana Plaza collapse in contemporary Bangladesh. Samia completed her PhD in 2012 at the University of Sydney, where her research examined connections between South Asia and Australia using Aboriginal and South Asian language materials. Since then, she has held postdoctoral fellowships at Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin and The Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, Dunedin as well as a writing fellowship at the Asian-American Writers Workshop, New York. Samia has also made documentaries on Australian race relations that have screened on SBS and ABC-TV.