This 2023 John Gee Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Professor Toni Erskine. 

War is changing rapidly – and with it the challenge of ensuring that restraint is exercised in both the resort to force and its conduct. Lethal autonomous weapons systems are able to select and engage targets, with and without human authorisation. Algorithms that rely on big data analytics and machine learning recommend targets for drone strikes and will increasingly infiltrate state-level decision-making on whether to wage war. The spectre of future iterations of these intelligent machines surpassing human capacities, and escaping human control, has recently received a surge in attention as an approaching existential threat. Yet, this future-focused fear obscures a grave and insidious challenge that is already here.

A neglected danger that already-existing AI-enabled weapons and decision-support systems pose is that they change how we (as citizens, soldiers, and states) deliberate, how we act, and how we view ourselves as responsible agents. This has potentially profound ethical, political, and even geo-political implications – well before AI evolves to a point where some fear that it could initiate algorithmic Armageddon. Professor Erskine will argue that our reliance on AI-enabled and automated systems in war threatens to create the perception that we have been displaced as the relevant decision-makers and may therefore abdicate our responsibilities to intelligent machines. She will conclude by asking how these risks might, in turn, affect hard-won international norms of restraint – and how they can be mitigated.

About the speaker

Toni Erskine is Professor of International Politics in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University (ANU) and Associate Fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at Cambridge University. She is also Chief Investigator of the Defence-funded ‘Anticipating the Future of War: AI, Automated Systems, and Resort-to-Force Decision Making’ Research Project and a Founding Member and Chief Investigator of the ‘Humanising Machine Intelligence’ Grand Challenge at ANU. She serves as Academic Lead for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP)/Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) ‘AI for the Social Good’ Research Project and in this capacity works closely with government departments in Thailand and Bangladesh. Her research interests include the impact of new technologies (particularly AI) on organised violence; the moral agency and responsibility of formal organisations in world politics; the ethics of war; the responsibility to protect vulnerable populations from mass atrocity crimes (‘R2P’); and the role of joint purposive action and informal coalitions in response to global crises. She is currently completing a book entitled Locating Responsibility: Institutional Moral Agency in a World of Existential Threats and is the recipient of the International Studies Association’s 2024 International Ethics Distinguished Scholar Award.


About John Gee

Dr John Gee AO served with distinction as an Australian diplomat in a number of countries. His greatest contribution, however, was in the field of disarmament, where he had a particular interest in chemical weapons. After a period as a Commissioner on the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq following the first Gulf War, he became Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, serving there until 2003. In recognition of his achievements, Dr Gee was made a member of the Order of Australia in January 2007. Gee leaves behind a legacy and a memory of a great Australian.

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This Robert O'Neill War Studies lecture will be delivered by Professor Craig Stockings. 

Robert John O'Neill AO (1936-2023) was an Australian historian and academic of the highest stature. He served at various junctures not only as Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) here at ANU, and Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), based in London, but was also Chichele Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford from 1987 to 2000. He was this nation’s third Official Historian. The 2024 Robert O'Neill War Studies Lecture, delivered by Professor Craig Stockings, tackles the difficult issue of ‘Official Histories’, with a focus upon the current series regarding Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor, and the sometimes-difficult, often-fraught, and ongoing process of producing it.

About the speaker
Craig Stockings is a Professor of History, and Head of School at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra. His areas of academic interest concern general and Australian military history and operational analysis. He has published a history of the army cadet movement in Australia entitled The Torch and the Sword (2007), and a study of the First Libyan Campaign in North Africa 1940-41: Bardia: Myth, Reality and the Heirs of Anzac (2009). He has also edited Zombie Myths of Australian Military History (2010) and Anzac’s Dirty Dozen: 12 Myths of Australian Military History (2012). In 2013 he co-authored an in depth study of the Greek campaign - Swastika over the Acropolis: re-interpreting the Nazi Invasion of Greece in World War II; and co-edited Before the Anzac Dawn: A Military History of Australia to 1915. His most recent book, published by CUP in 2015 is an investigation of turn of the century imperial defence entitled: Britannia’s Shield: Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Hutton and Late Victorian Imperial Defence. He is concurrently appointed at the Official Historian of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor, is general editor of all six volumes of the series, and has authored the first: Born of Fire and Ash: Australian operations in response to the East Timor crisis 1999-2000, Volume 1: Official History of Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor, UNSW Press.


About Robert O'Neill
Emeritus Professor Robert O'Neill AO
was Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre from 1971 to 1982 and remains an active part of the academic community. One of the world's leading experts on strategic and security studies, O'Neill previously served as Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London (1982-1987); Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford University (1987-2000); Chairman of the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (1995-2001); and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Imperial War Museum (1997-2001). In remembrance of his invaluable contributions, it is with great sadness that we note the passing of Emeritus Professor Robert O'Neill AO in 2023, leaving behind a profound legacy in the field of Strategic Studies. 


  • 6.30-7.30pm - Academic Lecture
  • 7.30-8pm - Networking drinks and canapés


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Amy King and Wenting He explore the enduring concept of 'self-reliance' (zili gengsheng) in Chinese political discourse over a century.


The idea of ‘self-reliance’ (zili gengsheng) has endured in Chinese political discourse for nearly a century, transcending profound changes in China’s political, economic, and strategic circumstances. While ‘self-reliance’ is frequently misinterpreted as economic isolation or autarky, we instead show that ‘self-reliance’ has always been comprised of three interlocking pillars: autonomy, interdependence, and order-shaping. These three pillars sit in tension with one another, and yet have accommodated and co-existed with one another since the earliest articulations of the idea. Drawing on discursive institutionalism and its understanding of ‘ideational resilience’, we argue that this tripartite structure, replete with internal contradictions, has enabled Chinese leaders since the Republican era to reinterpret and usefully deploy the idea of ‘self-reliance’. Our findings underscore the resilience of key Chinese foreign economic policy ideas; and the ideational logic driving Xi Jinping’s apparently contradictory pursuit of ‘technological self-reliance’, open global markets, and greater connectivity with the developing world.


About the speakers

Amy King is an Associate Professor in the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre at The Australian National University, and Deputy Director (Research) in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. She is the author of China-Japan Relations after World War Two: Empire, Industry and War, 1949-1971 (Cambridge University Press, 2016). The holder of an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship and a Westpac Research Fellowship, she leads a team researching China’s role in shaping the international economic order.

Wenting He is a PhD candidate in International Relations at The Australian National University. Her PhD project investigates how China’s ambiguous understanding of market-state relations has shaped its interpretations of economic crises and subsequent engagement with international economic order. Her recent publications unpack the constructive ambiguity of national interest in the context of U.S.-China relations.

About the chair

Wesley Widmaier is a Professor of International Relations at The Australian National University. His research addresses the interplay of wars, crises, and change – and the ways in which stability can cause instability, a concern that spans International Political Economy and International Security debates. He is the author of Presidential Rhetoric from Wilson to Obama: Constructing Crises, Fast and Slow (Routledge, 2015) and Economic Ideas in Political Time: The Rise and Fall of Economic Orders from the Progressive Era to the Global Financial Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Previously he was a Section Chair of the International Political Economy section of the International Studies Association.

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This seminar series is part of a research project on How China Shapes the International Economic Order, generously funded by the Westpac Scholars Trust and the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, and led by A/Professor Amy King from the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

A series of webinars created by the Hothouse at ANU, discussing the intersections between climate change, inequity, and human health. The focus is on actions that enable transformative change away from the harmful consumptogenic system to systems that promote good health, social equity and environmental wellbeing.

This episode featured Dr Annabelle Workman, Research Fellow at Melbourne Climate Futures.

The health and other impacts of climate change highlight an imperative for urgent climate action. The health community continues to increase its efforts in raising the alarm on climate-related health impacts and emphasising the health and economic benefits of ambitious and timely action. Yet, projections based on the analysis of current policies and action see us remain on a dangerous path of global warming over 2°C. Using insights from the political economy literature, this seminar will explore what strategies might exist to secure the urgent action needed to develop healthier climate policies.

Event Speakers

Photo of Annabelle, smiling.

Annabelle Workman

Belle is a social scientist driven by the urgent need to develop healthier climate policies. With a background in political science and public health, Belle is now a Research Fellow at Melbourne Climate Futures, co-leading the Health, Wellbeing and Climate Justice Research Program with Professor Kathryn Bowen.

Meg Arthur smiling in front of plants

Megan Arthur

Megan is a Laureate Research Fellow with the Planetary Health Equity Hothouse. She is an interdisciplinary qualitative researcher working at the intersection of social policy and public health. She studies the politics of governance for health and wellbeing at multiple levels, with a particular interest in the social and environmental determinants of health equity.

Sharon Friel is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor of Health Equity.


This seminar series is part of a two-year (2023-2025) research project on Anticipating the Future of War: AI, Automated Systems, and Resort-to-Force Decision Making, generously funded by the Australian Department of Defence and led by Professor Toni Erskine from the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

How should states balance the benefits and risks of employing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in nuclear command and control systems? Dr Ben Zala will argue that it is only by placing developments in AI against the larger backdrop of the increasing prominence of a much wider set of strategic non-nuclear capabilities that this question can be adequately addressed. In order to do so, he will make the case for disaggregating the different risks that AI poses to stability as well as examine the specific ways in which it may instead be harnessed to restabilise nuclear-armed relationships. Dr Zala will also identify a number of policy areas that ought to be prioritised by way of mitigating the risks and harnessing the opportunities identified in the short-medium term. 

About the speaker
Ben Zala is a Fellow in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU. His work focuses on the politics of the great powers and the management of nuclear weapons. He has been a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at Harvard University and is currently an Honorary Fellow at the University of Leicester, UK contributing to the Third Nuclear Age project (

About the chair
Toni Erskine is Professor of International Politics in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University (ANU), and Associate Fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at Cambridge University. She is Chief Investigator of the Defence-funded 'Anticipating the Future of War: AI, Automated Systems, and Resort-to-Force Decision Making' Research Project and a Chief Investigator and Founding Member of the 'Humanising Machine Intelligence' Grand Challenge at ANU.

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Discussing AI, Automated Systems, and the Future of War Seminar Series

Experts agree that future warfare will be characterized by countries’ use of military technologies enhanced with Artificial Intelligence (AI). These AI-enhanced capabilities are thought to help countries maintain lethal overmatch of adversaries, especially when used in concert with humans. Yet it is unclear what shapes servicemembers’ trust in human-machine teaming, wherein they partner with AI-enhanced military technologies to optimize battlefield performance. In October 2023, Dr Lushenko administered a conjoint survey at the US Army and Naval War Colleges to assess how varying features of AI-enhanced military technologies shape servicemembers’ trust in human-machine teaming. He finds that trust in AI-enhanced military technologies is shaped by a tightly calibrated set of considerations including technical specifications, namely their non-lethal purpose, heightened precision, and human oversight; perceived effectiveness in terms of civilian protection, force protection, and mission accomplishment; and, international oversight. These results provide the first experimental evidence of military attitudes for manned-unmanned teams, which have research, policy, and modernization implications.

About the speaker
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Lushenko,
 PhD is an Assistant Professor and Director of Special Operations at the US Army War College. In addition, he is a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member, Senior Fellow at Cornell University's Tech Policy Institute, Non-Resident Expert at RegulatingAI, and Adjunct Research Lecturer at Charles Sturt University. He is the co-editor of Drones and Global Order: Implications of Remote Warfare for International Society (2022), which is the first book to systematically study the implications of drone warfare on global politics. He is also the co-author of The Legitimacy of Drone Warfare: Evaluating Public Perceptions (2024), which examines public perceptions of the legitimacy of drones and how this affects countries’ policies on and the global governance of drone warfare.

About the chair
Emily Hitchman is the Research Officer on the Anticipating the Future of War: AI, Automated Systems, and Resort-to-Force Decision Making project. Emily is a PhD scholar at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre focussing on the history of the Glomar (‘neither confirm nor deny’) response in the national security context. She is also a 2023 Sir Roland Wilson Scholar, and has appeared on the National Security Podcast speaking about her research, and as a panellist at the 2022 Australian Crisis Simulation Summit speaking about the future of intelligence. Emily has worked professionally across the national security and criminal justice public policy space, including in law enforcement and cyber policy, and holds a Bachelor of Philosophy from The Australian National University.

This seminar series is part of a two-year (2023-2025) research project on Anticipating the Future of War: AI, Automated Systems, and Resort-to-Force Decision Making, generously funded by the Australian Department of Defence and led by Professor Toni Erskine from the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

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Join the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Coral Bell School to discuss Afghanistan today: The humanitarian situation, the strength and resilience of the people of Afghanistan, as well as ongoing efforts to address critical needs.

Since August 2021, the humanitarian conditions within Afghanistan have reached devastating proportions. While fighting has significantly decreased many people remain at severe risk.  Three decades of armed conflict in Afghanistan has left 29.2 million people, more than half of the population, in need of critical humanitarian assistance.

  •  Approximately 8 out of every 10 people of Afghanistan drink unsafe water
  • 35 per cent of healthcare facilities lack access to at least basic necessities such as power,  drinking water, and supplies. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross has served the people of Afghanistan for more than 40 years and continues to carry out humanitarian operations across the country.  

Visiting Australia to highlight the realities of the situation in Afghanistan and provide a unique firsthand perspective, outgoing International Committee of the Red Cross Head of Delegation, Eloi Fillion, will be joined by renowned Australian photojournalist Andrew Quilty, Refugee Advocate Shukufa Tahiri and Dr Nemat Bizhan of the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy for an open and engaging public conversation on Afghanistan today. 



Eloi Fillion took on his current position as Head of Delegation at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan in June 2021. After joining the ICRC in 1998 as Legal Adviser in Geneva, Eloi Fillion moved to the operations and served in India, Uganda, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan, Israel and Palestine with increasing management responsibilities. In 2009 he became the Deputy Head of Delegation in Afghanistan. Between 2011 and 2014 he was the Deputy Head of Operations for the Middle East Region, mainly working on Syria. He worked as the Head of Delegation in Sudan from 2015 to 2016. Lastly, he served as the Head of Delegation in Nigeria from 2017 to 2021. Eloi Fillion holds a Master’s degree in Public International Law from the University of Aix-en Provence (France) and a BA + Maîtrise in Public International Law from the Exeter University (UK) and the University of Aix-en-Provence (France) respectively.

Andrew Quilty is an Australian photojournalist and reporter who was based in Afghanistan from 2013 to 2022. He is the recipient of numerous international awards, including nine Walkley Awards, the World Press Photo Award and the Overseas Press Club of America award. Quilty was one of the only foreign journalists to remain in Afghanistan when the Taliban retook control in 2021. His first book, August in Kabul: America's Last Days in Afghanistan, chronicling the chaotic period, was published in 2022. His second book, This is Afghanistan: 2014 - 2021 is a photographic record of his nine years in Afghanistan and was published last month.

Shukufa Tahiri is a Policy Officer with the Refugee Council of Australia. Her work involves policy analysis, research and advocacy on issues affecting people seeking asylum and refugees. She is an executive director at Akademos Society, a charity that helps fund the education of girls and youth including child labourers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She was chosen by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as one of the two Australian civil society representative to attend the month long UN Human Rights Council session 40 in Geneva.  Amnesty International Australia recognised her as one of the 15 women championing human rights in Australia in 2017. The Australian Financial Review has also named her as one of 2018’s 100 women of influence in Australia.

Nematullah Bizhan is a Lecturer at the Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. He is also a Senior Research Associate with the Global Economic Governance Program, Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. In 2017 and 2018, Nematullah was a Research Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government undertaking research on the role of identities and networks in establishing state legitimacy and effectiveness, and, in association with the Oxford-LSE Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development, he worked on state fragility and international policy. He was an Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellow at the University College, Oxford University (2015-16) and the Niehaus Centre for Globalization and Governance, Princeton University (2014-15). He is a member of the steering committees of the Oxford Network of Peace Studies (OxPeace).

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Since February 2021, the coordination for education aid in Myanmar has changed. Most aid agencies have resorted to no engagement policy with de facto authorities, resulting in no or very limited engagement with state ministries and education institutions when most of the educational institutions in Myanmar are state-owned. This has come at a time of unprecedented education needs in Myanmar after Covid19 and coup-related chaos. This context sees education aid agencies in Myanmar caught in the challenges of limited funds, limited coordination, and ethical considerations in delivering aid. The role of education aid in Myanmar is challenged in many ways with key areas being outreach, cooperation, and sustainability.

Dr Khaing Phyu Htut will summarise the scenario of education aid in Myanmar including their coping mechanisms and offer preliminary thoughts on aid effectiveness and accountability. Dr Khaing Phyu Htut will also explore with the audience how politics impact education in challenging contexts and how best education can be protected.

About the speaker
Dr Khaing Phyu Htut has been active in Myanmar education sector for more than 20 years. She has worked in various roles at the Ministry of Education, the British Council and Department for International Development (DFID) which is now known as Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Her current role as the Education Adviser of DFID involves overseeing the UK’s education support to Myanmar which focuses on teacher education, assessment, and marginalised communities. She is in Australia as the inaugural visiting Myanmar fellow of the ANU Myanmar Research Centre and the Myanmar Research Network, University of Melbourne.

Pacific states and peoples inside global climate change negotiations (UNFCCC COP): from consensus, coherence to ‘climate updated’

For more than 35 years Pacific islands’ states and peoples have led and shaped the global agenda in global climate change negotiations. This seminar will detail the multi-year research that traces, follows and works with Pacific states and peoples inside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) annual Conference of the Parties. In utilising Global Talanoa (global political ethnography and talanoa) the research gives access inside the negotiations where the project has studied and provided research brokerage for leaders, state delegates and civil society in the negotiations over the years. Situated at the intersection and interplay of international politics and climate change, it follows the work of Pacific states from the Paris COP21 in 2015, to the recent Sharm El Sheik COP27 in 2022 – how they have held space in shaping and influencing the negotiations agenda. The ‘Pacific society’ of officials, diplomats, civil society, activists and leaders have not only help build, but also reach consensus on climate action. Moreover, the research explores the coherence of various regional mechanisms, political processes and coalitions Pacific states have established over the years to manage the negotiations. Through research brokerage and ‘climate updated’ the presentation provides insights to the future of negotiations – and the case for the Australia and Pacific Islands climate change COP.

NOTE: this is a hybrid seminar. For online attendance please sign up to receive the Zoom link.

The recording of the seminar is available below:

Event Speakers

George Carter
Research Fellow

George Carter is a Research Fellow in Geopolitics and Regionalism, at the Department of Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University (ANU).

Join our panel discussion about the 2023 New Zealand election and its impact.

Want to know more about the recent New Zealand election? Join our exceptional panel of Aotearoa New Zealanders as they unpack the ‘why’ and ‘what next' of the 2023 general election and what it could mean for Pacific countries and people.

The evening includes a brief background of the recent election, a facilitated discussion among three outstanding New Zealand academics based in Australia, and a Q&A session.


Professor Dominic O’Sullivan (Te Rarawa, Ng­āti Kahu) is Professor of Political Science at Charles Sturt University, adjunct professor at Auckland University of Technology, and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society Te Ap­ārangi.

Dr Areti Metuamate (Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Haua) is an educationalist and Vice Warden at Ormond College, University of Melbourne

Dr Kerryn Baker is a Research Fellow in the Department of Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University.

Facilitated by Jayden Evett, a PhD candidate and New Zealand studies specialist with the Department of Pacific Affairs.

NOTE: this is a hybrid event. For online attendance please sign up to receive the Zoom link. Pre-event canapes will be held in the atrium from 5.30pm. 

China, Development and International Order Seminar Series

This seminar examines the Soviet occupation of Northeast China (Manchuria) and Nationalist China’s industrial reconstruction efforts in the years following Japan's defeat in World War II. During the Second Sino–Japanese War (1937–1945), China’s Nationalist government cultivated heavy industry SOEs in the inland region. Following Japan’s surrender, the Soviets initially occupied Manchuria, extracting copious industrial equipment from Angang and other Japanese enterprises. Despite this, Manchuria retained superior industrial facilities compared to other parts of China. After the Soviet retreat in the spring of 1946, the Nationalist government consolidated and restructured formerly Japanese enterprises into large-scale Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs), including Anshan Iron and Steel Works (Angang). The Nationalists partly reconstructed these SOEs by employing resident Japanese engineers while building on their experience running SOEs in the inland region and sending for Chinese managers and engineers from inland. The Japanese and Nationalists thus unintentionally provided the foundations for the Chinese Communist Party’s socialist industrialization after 1948. In this seminar, Koji Hirata will reflect on how this moment of post-war industrialisation shapes our understanding of development, international order, and developmental states in world history.

About the speaker
Dr. Koji Hirata is a research fellow in the School of Philosophical, Historical, and International Studies at Monash University. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, he completed his M.Phil in modern Chinese history at the University of Bristol. He then spent several years in Taiwan, China, and Russia, studying the Chinese and Russian languages, before moving to California to do his Ph.D. in history at Stanford University. He was a Research Fellow (JRF) at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge before coming to Monash. Koji’s research touches on modern China, Japan, and Russia/Soviet Union with broader implications for the global history of capitalism and socialism. His first book, Making Mao's Steelworks: Industrial Manchuria and the Transnational Origins of Chinese Socialism will be published by Cambridge University Press in July 2024.


About the chair
Amy King is Associate Professor in the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre at The Australian National University, and Deputy Director (Research) in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. She is the author of China-Japan Relations after World War Two: Empire, Industry and War, 1949-1971 (Cambridge University Press, 2016). The holder of an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship and a Westpac Research Fellowship, she leads a team researching China’s role in shaping the international economic order.


This seminar series is part of a research project on How China Shapes the International Economic Order, generously funded by the Westpac Scholars Trust and the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, and led by A/Professor Amy King from the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

If you require accessibility accommodations or a visitor Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan please contact the event organiser.

Professorial Lecture Series

This public lecture marks the culmination of our Professorial Lecture Series this year, a captivating series of four presentations, all dedicated to honouring our distinguished academics while highlighting their profound contributions to research and education.


About the event

Ambitious claims are often made today for big data analytics as the preeminent tool for understanding and predicting human behaviour. In this talk, Professor Benjamin Penny will 'zoom in' to consider the value of a micro- rather than a macro-perspective, focusing on the utility of the specific, the local, and the individual for analysing human society.

A famous aphorism, variously attributed to Roman Jakobson and Nietzsche, has it that philology is the art of reading slowly. It was only after Benjamin had completed many years of his education in Chinese that he realised that reading slowly had been the foundation of his disciplinary practice.

The intense focus philology has on the specific ramifications of each word as we read has been a key methodological underpinning of Benjamin's work. While 'big data' analytics undoubtedly has its value taking the specific instance seriously - a single life, one group of religious practitioners, the small data - can still be beautiful.



6-7pm Academic lecture

7-7.30pm Networking drinks & canapes


About the speaker

Benjamin Penny is a professor of Chinese history and religion in the School of Culture, History and Language at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. His research examines religious and spiritual movements in modern and contemporary China as well as in medieval times; Taiwanese religion and society, and expatriate society in the treaty ports in the nineteenth century.

Read more about Benjamin's profile here.



Dyah Ayu Kartika addresses the impact of anti-gender movements on gender-related issues and policies in Indonesia and their broader implications for the country's democracy.

The fight for gender equality in Indonesia achieved substantial gains after the country’s transition to democracy began in 1998. However, such gains have prompted a backlash from conservative movements, and in particular from Islamist groups. Such groups oppose feminist values and agendas, and instead promote religiously conservative interpretations of gender roles. Islamist groups have mobilised against a range of gender-progressive laws and regulations, including a bill proposed in 2022 on sexual violence. Importantly, women-led alliances of conservative Islamist groups are at the forefront of opposition to feminist-inspired legal change. The backlash against gender activism is not isolated to Indonesia. Scholars argue ‘anti-gender movements’ have been growing all around the world. Anti-gender movements oppose emancipatory claims on gender, sex, and sexuality and cast such claims as a moral threats. The movements have recently gained prominence as part of a broader rise in right-wing populism and democratic backsliding around the globe. 

Against this backdrop, my doctoral research project asks: What explains the recent rise in women-led anti-gender activism in Indonesia, and what has been its impact on women’s rights in the country? How similar and how different is this form of anti-gender activism to what analysts observe in other parts of the world, and in particular other Muslim-majority countries? To answer these questions, the project will use counter-movement theory as the overarching analytical framework, emphasising the dynamic interplay between social movements, counter-movements, and the state. In doing so, this project will offer the first systematic investigation into the growing visibility of anti-gender movements in Indonesia, with a view to reflecting on how such movements contribute to, or are impacted by, broader problems of democratic regression.


Dyah Ayu Kartika (Kathy) commenced her PhD studies in February 2023. She previously worked as a research analyst in a Jakarta-based think tank, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC). She was also part of the Indonesian fellows for New Mandala, an academic blog hosted by The Australian National University, to provide analysis on gender issues during Indonesia’s 2019 election.

We have heard enough now about US-China rivalry in Asia but not enough about its implications for the region. Join us and our three panelists to unpack this and more.

Chair and Speaker:

Chanintira na Thalang (Associate Professor, Thammasat University, Thailand): Unpacking Thailand’s Perceptions of and Position Amidst the US-China Rivalry


Ketian Vivian Zhang (Assistant Professor, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University): China’s Gambit: The Calculus of Coercion

Wen-Qing Ngoei (Associate Professor of History, College of Integrative Studies, Singapore Management University): Singapore and U.S. Informal Empire in Southeast Asia

Speaker Profiles:

Chanintira na Thalang is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University. Her current research interests include ASEAN, Global IR, ethnic conflicts and security in Southeast Asia. She is the author of a number of books written in Thai. Her work has also been published in English in a variety of academic journals such as International AffairsNations and NationalismAsian SurveyElectoral Studies, the Journal of Current Southeast Asia, the Australian Journal of International Affairs and Asian Ethnicity. More recently, she co-edited a volume entitled, International Relations as a Discipline in Thailand: theory and practice published with Routledge in 2019 and two special issues published in The Pacific Review and Contemporary Southeast Asia in 2022.

Ketian Vivian Zhang is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She studies rising powers’ grand strategies, coercion, economic statecraft, and maritime disputes, with a focus on China. Her research has appeared in International SecurityJournal of Strategic StudiesJournal of Contemporary ChinaAsia Policy, and Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs.

Wen-Qing Ngoei is Associate Professor of History at the Singapore Management University (SMU). He received a PhD in the history of U.S.-Southeast Asian relations at Northwestern University. Following postdoctoral stints at Northwestern University and Yale University, he taught history at the Nanyang Technological University before joining SMU. His first book, Arc of Containment: Britain, the United States, and Anticommunism in Southeast Asia (Cornell) traces how British decolonization strategies intertwined with anticommunist nationalism and anti-Chinese prejudice in Southeast Asia to usher the region from formal colonialism to U.S. hegemony. He has published in journals such as Diplomatic History and Journal of American-East Asian Relations.

Zoom information will be sent in the confirmation email.

For more information, contact the GRADNAS (The Graduate Research and Development Network on Asian Security) Coordinator, Dr. Stuti Bhatnagar at

This event is the eighth in the GRADNAS Seminar series of 2023 that showcases the cutting-edge academic research on Asian security by GRADNAS members. It presents an exciting opportunity for research exchange involving the network, providing a regular occasion for GRADNAS scholars to share and receive feedback on their ongoing and published research. Join us as we celebrate and showcase the excellent research by GRADNAS members and friends. Visit our website here.

If you require accessibility accommodations or a visitor Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan please contact the event organiser.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a hybrid event and will take place in-person as well as on Zoom.

Fundamental to any research endeavour is the positionality and relationality of the inquirer, in terms of a person’s worldview and the political and social context of the research. The context embraces multiple fields including the sites in which knowledge is accrued and disseminated, of which academia has a significant place. The panellists share an interest and history of conducting research in the Pacific region, including Australia. They bring their own unique perspectives and experiences to bear in their work and to the discussion. This seminar is an opportunity to explore and consider the meaning and understandings of positionality and relationality, and reflect upon the challenging nature of fostering and undertaking ethical and considered research.


Soli Middleby is an author, accredited Partnership Broker and Director of Coconuts and Kurrajongs. She has lived and worked across the Pacific Region for the last 20 years, representing Australia as a diplomat and supporting Pacific-led development through partnerships approaches with AusAID, DFAT, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and as the CEO of the Australia Pacific Training Coalition. She is currently a PHD Candidate with the University of Adelaide and Massey University, exploring Pacific Regionalism.

In an increasingly complex world, it is more crucial than ever to have a full picture of how international peacekeeping can be a force for good, but can also have potentially negative impacts on host communities. After thirteen years of presence in Haiti, the highly controversial United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti has now withdrawn. The UN’s legacy in Haiti is not all negative, but it does include sexual scandals, the divisive use of force to ‘clean up’ difficult neighbourhoods as well as a cholera epidemic, brought inadvertently by Nepalese peacekeepers that killed more than 8,000 Haitians and infected more than 600,000.

This book presents a unique multi-disciplinary analysis of the legacy of the mission for Haiti. It presents an innovative account of contemporary international peacekeeping law and practice, arguing for a new model of accountability, going beyond the outdated immunity mechanisms to foreground human rights.

This book launch will bring in conversation Nicolas Lemay-Hebert (ANU Coral Bell School), Rosa Freedman (University of Reading), and Siobhan Wills (Ulster University) over their recently published book The Law and Practice of Peacekeeping: Foregrounding Human Rights by Cambridge University Press. Buy it here.

Guest speakers include Lisa Sharland (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) and Charles T. Hunt (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology). Cecilia Jacob (ANU Coral Bell School) will facilitate this discussion.

The inaugural Coral Bell School Annual Lecture on Indigenous Diplomacy is the first and only national event in Australia celebrating and exploring First Nations peoples' contributions to international relations, diplomacy, foreign policy, and political thought.

Indigenous peoples have a long history of conducting international diplomacy, from their relations with one another across the continent for tens of millennia, their engagement with peoples outside Australia, and their contributions to the current international political system.

What makes Aboriginal-Australian international relations unique? Why in modern Australia are such approaches and worldviews important? And what can we learn from such unique ways of knowing, being, and doing?

Such questions have rarely been explored by International Relations Scholarship. In the inaugural Coral Bell School Annual Lecture on Indigenous Diplomacy, Dr Mary Graham and Associate Professor Morgan Brigg will explore these issues in a wide-ranging discussion on Aboriginal Australian political ordering and relationality in international politics.

The inaugural Coral Bell School Annual Lecture on Indigenous Diplomacy is the first and only national event in Australia celebrating and exploring First Nations peoples and their contributions to international relations, diplomacy, foreign policy, and political thought.


Opening remarks by Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade

Dr Mary Graham is a Kombumerri person (Gold Coast) through her father’s heritage and affiliated with Wakka Wakka (South Burnett) through her mother’s people. She has worked across government and universities, teaching Aboriginal history, politics and comparative philosophy, and incorporating Aboriginal knowledges into curricula. She is one of the foremost writers on Aboriginal Australian knowledges, and philosophy.

Dr Morgan Brigg is an Associate Professor at the University of Queensland and long-term collaborator with Mary Graham. He specialises in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, political theory, and the politics of knowledge. His research facilitates exchange between Western and Indigenous political philosophies and socio-political orders as part of a wider exploration of the politics of cultural difference, governance, and selfhood.

Jointly supported by ANU First Nations Portfolio, Tjabal Centre and Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the U.S. inaugurated the use of armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones to combat terrorists. Since then, drones have proliferated broadly. Over 102 countries and nearly 65 stateless groups now possess drones. This suggests that “drone warfare” is no longer merely a U.S. phenomenon focusing on counterterrorism. Rather, countries and other non-state actors are acquiring drones and using them differently.

Ukraine, for instance, has capitalized on drones to help block Russia’s seizure of Kyiv to install a puppet regime. Given this development, how do we understand emerging patterns of drone warfare globally? What is the evolving proliferation of drones for international security and global order? How do these consequences, in turn, shape policies to manage the emergence of automated and autonomous remote-warfare technologies?

This panel discussion draws on the insights of three experts to answer these and related questions, including Emeritus Professor William Maley, Associate Professor Cecilia Jacob, and U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Lushenko.

Event Speakers

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Professor John Blaxland

John is Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies and former Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales, member of the Australian Army Journal editorial board, and the first Australian recipient of a US Department of Defense Minerva Research Initiative grant.

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Cecilia is Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations. She is an Australian Research Council DECRA fellow and visiting fellow at the Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict at the University of Oxford. Her work focuses on civilian protection, mass atrocity prevention, and international human protection norms. 

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William Maley

William is Emeritus Professor at ANU, where he was Professor of Diplomacy from 2003-2021. He is a Member of the Order of Australia, a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. He was admitted as a Barrister of the High Court of Australia in 1982.

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Paul Lushenko

Paul is a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and General Andrew Jackson Goodpaster Scholar at Cornell University, where he is pursuing a PhD in International Relations. After commissioning as a Military Intelligence Officer in 2005 from the United States Military Academy, he studied at ANU as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and the U.S. Naval War College.

The Asia Pacific is predicted to have the greatest proportion of people already exposed and vulnerable to concurrent extreme weather events and the intensification of climate change-related security risks. What can we learn from Asia Pacific women’s regional networks in ensuring existing risk mapping and analyses are ‘fit for purpose’ as simultaneous catastrophes become endemic globally?

Drawing on feminist and postcolonial approaches, this research seeks to examine how and why women’s regional networks in the Asia Pacific develop distinct perspectives and practices in responding to a multiplicity of crises. In bringing women’s regional networks to bear on the existing scholarship and policy agenda on climate change, this research situates their significance within 1) a longer history of conceptualising women’s insecurity within a matrix of oppressions fuelled by capitalism, colonialism/imperialism, and nationalism; and 2) genealogy of political thought as ‘Third World’ women who have distinctly experienced, interpreted, resisted and theorised the global order.

Dr Maria Tanyag is a Research Fellow / Lecturer at the Department of International Relations at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, and a Resident Women, Peace and Security Fellow at Pacific Forum. Her most recent publications are Sexual Health and World Peace in the Routledge Handbook of Feminist Peace Research, and A Feminist Call to Be Radical: Linking Women’s Health and Planetary Health in the journal Politics & Gender. In 2020, Dr Tanyag was one of the contributing authors to the global report entitled Gender, Climate and Security: Sustaining Inclusive Peace on the Frontlines of Climate Change published by UNEP, UN Women, UN DPPA, and UNDP.

This seminar is the eighth of the Women in Asia-Pacific Security Research Seminar Series 2020-21, jointly supported by the Graduate Research & Development Network for Asian Security (GRADNAS) and the ANU Gender Institute. This seminar series showcases the cutting-edge academic research of women in the fields of Asia-Pacific security broadly-defined, and serves as an international platform for strengthening academic exchange, feedback, and mentorship. For more information, contact the Series Convenor, Professor Evelyn Goh

The fear of the malingering soldier or veteran has existed in Australia since its first nationwide military venture in South Africa. The establishment of the Repatriation Department in 1917 saw the medical, military and political fields work collectively, to some extent, to support hundreds of thousands of men who returned from their military service wounded or ill.

Over the next decades, the medical profession occasionally criticised the Repatriation Department’s alleged laxness towards soldier recipients of military pensions, particularly those with less visible war-related psychiatric conditions. In 1963 this reached a crescendo when a group of Australian doctors drew battle lines in the correspondence pages of the Medical Journal of Australia, accusing the Repatriation Department of directing a ‘national scandal’, and provoking responses by both the Minister for Repatriation and the Chairman of the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal.

Although this controversy and its aftermath do allow for closer investigation of the inner workings of the Repatriation Department, the words of the doctors themselves about ‘phony cronies’, ‘deadbeats’ and ‘drongoes’ also reveal how the medical fear of the malingering soldier, and particularly the traumatised soldier-malingerer, lingered into the early 1960s and beyond. This paper will analyse the medical conceptualisation of the traumatised soldier in the 1960s in relation to historical conceptions of malingering, the increasingly tenuous position of psychiatry, as well as the socio-medical ‘sick role’, and will explore possible links between the current soldier and veteran suicide crisis in Australia.

Effie Karageorgos is a Lecturer in History at the University of Newcastle and Deputy Convenor of the UON Future of Madness Network. Her research focuses on histories of conflict, gender and psychiatry. Her monograph Australian Soldiers in South Africa and Vietnam: Words from the Battlefield was published in 2016.

The great American political scientist Seymour Lipset once said, “they that know only one country, know no countries”.

This panel addresses the issue of comparisons in our political discourse, and in particular “whataboutism” - the response China critics often make when it is pointed out that other countries have committed egregious actions similar in kind, if not scale, to China. By this, they mean that the comparison raised is a distraction from dealing with China’s actions. But this approach arguably sits uneasily with our desires to avoid double standards. This panel of experts will discuss the ethical and political aspects of “whataboutism”, with a focus on China.


Ian Hall is a Professor in International Relations and the acting Director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University. He is also an Academic Fellow of the Australia India Institute and a co-editor (with Sara Davies) of the Australian Journal of International Affairs.

Van Jackson is a political scientist and former Pentagon strategist specialising in Asia-Pacific security, the politics of US foreign policy, and the theory and practice of grand strategy. He is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington, a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and a Senior Associate Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Wellington, New Zealand.

Yun Jiang is the inaugural AIIA China Matters Fellow. Prior to this, she was the co-founder and editor of China Neican, and a managing editor of the China Story blog at the Australian Centre on China in the World.


Gregory Raymond is a lecturer in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs researching Southeast Asian politics and foreign relations. He is the author of Thai Military Power: A Culture of Strategic Accommodation (NIAS Press 2018) and the lead author of The United States-Thai Alliance: History, Memory and Current Developments (Routledge, 2021).

Australia and Thailand are both middle powers and allies of the United States. Both are important players in the Indo-Pacific, with Thailand the second largest economy in ASEAN and Australia a founding member of the Quad. But there are also significant differences, including with respect to relations with China and respective political systems.

This panel session will explore divergences and convergences in Australian and Thai foreign policy, the worldviews underpinning those positions, and how and where the two countries can cooperate in an era of increasing strategic competition and increasing geopolitical uncertainty.


Susannah Patton is Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Lowy Institute and the Project Lead for the Asia Power Index. She has previously worked in various Southeast Asia-focused positions in the Australian government, including as a Senior Analyst in the Southeast Asia Branch at the Office of National Intelligence and as a diplomat in the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.

Jittipat Poonkham is Associate Professor of International Relations, Associate Dean for International Affairs and Director of International Studies Program in the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University. He is an author of A Genealogy Of Bamboo Diplomacy: The Politics of Thai Détente with Russia and China (ANU Press 2022) and a co-editor of International Relations as a Discipline in Thailand: Theory and Sub-fields (Routledge 2019).


Greg Raymond is a lecturer in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs researching Southeast Asian politics and foreign relations. He is the author of Thai Military Power: A Culture of Strategic Accommodation (NIAS Press 2018) and the lead author of The United States-Thai Alliance: History, Memory and Current Developments (Routledge, 2021).

View the report here.

Since the dawn of the atomic age, nuclear weapons have been central to the internal dynamics of US alliances in Europe and Asia. But nuclear weapons cooperation in US alliances has varied significantly over time and space. Partners in Deterrence goes beyond traditional accounts that focus on US policy regarding deterrence and reassurance, and instead places the objectives and influence of US allies at the centre of analysis. Through several case studies, Stephan Frühling (ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs) and Andrew O’Neil (Griffith University) reveal that US allies have wielded major influence in shaping nuclear weapons cooperation with the US in ways that reflect their own, often idiosyncratic, objectives.

Chaired by the Director of the Griffith Asia Institute, Professor Caitlin Byrne, this event will celebrate the launch of Partners in Deterrence by Australia’s pre-eminent strategist Emeritus Professor Hugh White.

Purchase the book here. Watch the launch here.


Professor Stephan Frühling, Australian National University

Professor Frühling teaches in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Coral Bell School, and has widely published on Australian defence policy, defence planning and strategy, nuclear weapons and NATO. Stephan was the Fulbright Professional Fellow in Australia-US Alliance Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC in 2017. He worked as a ‘Partner across the globe’ research fellow in the Research Division of the NATO Defense College in Rome in 2015, and was a member of the Australian Government’s External Panel of Experts on the development of the 2016 Defence White Paper.

Professor Andrew O’Neil, Griffith University

Professor O’Neil is Acting Dean of the Graduate Research School at Griffith University. He has published widely in the broad areas of international relations and strategic studies and is currently chief investigator on projects focusing on the Australia-US alliance funded by the Australian Research Council and Australia’s Department of Defence. Andrew is a former member of the Australian Foreign Minister’s National Consultative Committee on Security Issues and is a member of the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts.

Professor Caitlin Byrne, Griffith University

Professor Byrne is Director of the Griffith Asia Institute. Caitlin’s research is focused on Australian Diplomacy with a special interest in Australia’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Most recent research projects explore the role of leadership, soft power and public diplomacy – including people-to-people connections developed through international education, culture and sport – in developing Australia’s regional influence, relationships and reputation. Caitlin consults on occasion to government in the areas of strategic foreign policy and diplomatic practice.

Emeritus Professor Hugh White, Australian National University

Hugh White AO is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. His work focuses primarily on Australian strategic and defence policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, and global strategic affairs especially as they influence Australia and the Asia-Pacific. Hugh has served as an intelligence analyst with the Office of National Assessments, as a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald, as a senior adviser on the staffs of Defence Minister Kim Beazley and Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and as a senior official in the Department of Defence, where from 1995 to 2000 he was Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence, and as the first Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Henry's seminar examines the historical approach of the ANZUS alliance towards Taiwan using declassified documents from Australia and the United States. He argues that Australia's obligations in defending Taiwan are minimal, suggesting that the potential consequences of Australian inaction within the alliance have been exaggerated.

The likelihood of another Taiwan Strait crisis is increasing. Some argue that if the U.S. chose to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, then Australia would be obliged—under the ANZUS alliance—to assist. Defence Minister Peter Dutton has opined that it would be “inconceivable” for Australia to not “support the U.S.”

Using declassified documents from Australia and the United States, Henry investigates how the ANZUS alliance has previously approached the issue of Taiwan. He finds that Australia’s obligations are minimal and that the potential alliance consequences of Australian inaction are likely overstated.


Iain D. Henry is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at The Australian National University. His first book, Reliability and Alliance Interdependence: The United States and Its Allies in Asia, 1949-1969, will be published by Cornell University Press in May 2022.

About the series

The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre Public Lecture Series seeks to stimulate public discussion on major challenges relating to Australia’s strategic and defence policy and to contribute to the vital national conversation about Australia’s future in the Indo-Pacific.

Event Speakers

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Professor Desmond Ball AO was the leading figure in strategic studies of his generation and made a major contribution to global scholarship in a field of vital importance in the Cold War by arguing that limited nuclear war was simply not credible. US President Carter said that Des Ball’s “counsel and cautionary advice based on deep research, made a great difference to our collective goal of avoiding nuclear war.” In over 40 years’ service at ANU, Des made a remarkable contribution to this university as a scholar, teacher, academic leader, and mentor. This lecture commemorates his legacy as an outstanding scholar.

America’s renowned geostrategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, proclaimed four years ago that the most dangerous scenario facing the US would be a grand coalition of China and Russia, united not by ideology but by complimentary grievances. The thesis proposed by Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb is that such a grand coalition of China and Russia is now fast becoming a geopolitical fact in an era of growing tensions among the major powers.

China and Russia are the two leading revisionist powers leagued together in their contempt for the West. Both these authoritarian states see a West that they believe is preoccupied with debilitating political challenges at home. The evidence now is accumulating to suggest that the relationship between China and Russia is at its closest since the 1950s. If the China-Russia military partnership continues its upward trend, it will inevitably seek to undermine the international security order by challenging the system of US-centred alliances in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Moreover, both China and Russia have outstanding territorial ambitions they seem intent on pursuing.

So, what are the chances of Beijing and Moscow concluding that now is the time to challenge the West and take advantage of what they both consider to be Western weaknesses? Is the strategic alignment between China and Russia in effect now a de facto alliance or not? Paul Dibb will explore the pros and cons of this proposition and its implications for Australia.

Paul Dibb is Emeritus Professor of strategic studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He was Head of the Centre from 1991 to 2004. His previous positions include Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence in the Department of Defence, Director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation, and Head of the National Assessments Staff in the National Intelligence Committee. He is the author of 5 books and 4 reports to government, as well as more than 150 academic articles and monographs about the security of the Asia-Pacific region, the US alliance, and Australia’s defence policy. He wrote the 1986 Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities (the Dibb Report) and was the primary author of the 1987 Defence White Paper.

It is only natural that we see the ‘new Cold War’ through the lens of the old one. But how far is the new Cold War against China like the old one against the Soviet Union?

Today’s policies in Washington, Canberra and elsewhere are based on specific views of both the similarities and differences - views that underpin the prevailing optimism about how the contest will play out, and who will win.

In this lecture, Hugh will offer a different view of the similarities and differences which suggest that optimism about this new Cold War is misplaced.

Panel 1
Supporting women’s agenda: Access to justice and security

Date: 6 December 2021
Time: 7-8pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom
Speakers: Habiba Sarābi, May Maloney, Samira Hamidi
Moderator: Farkhondeh Akbari

Watch panel 1 here

Panel 2
Prioritising actions with girls: Access to protection and rights

Date: 8 December 2021
Time: 7-8 pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom
Speakers: Fereshta Abbasi, Nicole van Rooijen Moderator: Bina D’Costa

Watch panel 2 here

To commemorate the ‘End Violence against Women’ campaign (25 Nov - Dec 10), join the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for a two-part conversation on the importance of addressing this issue in Afghanistan.

Over the last two decades, the United States and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have invoked the rights of Afghan women and girls to help justify their military engagement in Afghanistan.

Following the US and NATO withdrawal, and with the recent spate of violence it is clear, that women and girls are facing immediate threats, in the country and elsewhere. In this context, what is the responsibility of the international community? What roles could human rights defenders and practitioners play in supporting women and girls?

Our experts will share their insights to offer an overview of different manifestations of violence against women and girls.

Recognising the importance of this issue and the different needs and attributes of girls/children, we have divided the conversations into two parts.


Habiba Sarābi was a member of the Afghan Government’s negotiation team, former deputy chair of High Peace Council and reformer during post-Taliban reconstruction in Afghanistan. In 2005, she was appointed as Governor of Bamyan which made her the first Afghan woman to become a governor of any province in the country. She previously served as Afghanistan’s Minister of Women’s Affairs as well as Minister of Culture and Education. Sarābi has been instrumental in promoting women’s rights and representation and environmental issues.

Samira Hamidi is Regional Campaigner for Amnesty International South Asia Regional Office. Her work focuses on human rights, peace process, women’s rights and transitional justice issues in Afghanistan. Previously she has worked with the EU delegation in Afghanistan, Norwegian Embassy, UN Women, CMI, Folke Bernadette Academy and Sweden Embassy as Freelance Consultant focusing on human rights, women, peace and security and civil society issues.

May Maloney is the Deputy Head of the Addressing Sexual Violence team for ICRC based in Geneva. She has over a decade’s experience addressing sexual and gender-based violence, gender and diversity and social inclusion in the human rights, community development, torture and trauma, and humanitarian fields. Her work focuses on technical field support and leading the Sexual Violence team’s humanitarian diplomacy priorities, operational research outcomes, and external relations.

Fereshta Abbasi graduated with an LLB in Law and Political Science from Herat University and an LLM in International Law and Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen. She is an accomplished human rights campaigner, and a vocal advocate for human rights. She has highlighted human rights abuses in Afghanistan for several years, especially as a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Nicole van Rooijen is a Protection Programme Manager for Asia and the Pacific for the International Committee of the Red Cross. With over 16 years of experience at the ICRC, Nicole has worked in various contexts, including Zimbabwe, Colombia, Afghanistan, Jordan and Gaza. Now at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, she oversees protection work in the Asia-Pacific region. Nicole holds a Masters in Human Geography from the University of Amsterdam and has experience in protection training, as well as working with internally displaced people, on sexual and gender-based violence, and on community protection.


Bina D’Costa is a Professor at the Department of International Relations, ANU Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. Through human rights framing, her research focuses on displaced children’s protection in global humanitarian emergencies in trafficking, child/early marriage, exploitative child labour and sexual abuse contexts. Previously, as a UN staff member, she has worked in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and South Asia, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan with Afghan displaced communities.

Farkhondeh Akbari is a PhD student at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. Her research focus is on diplomatic actors and peace settlements with non-state armed actors, looking at the negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Farkhondeh has worked at Afghanistan’s Independent Directorate of Local Governance, the United Nations Headquarters and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

The experience of displacement has shaped the politics of many Muslim movements across Southeast Asia. This panel previews a special issue of Itinerario on coerced mobility, and the diverse responses of groups of Muslims in Siam’s incorporation of Patani, Dutch efforts to colonise Aceh, and anti-colonial movements like the Darul Islam in Java and the Communist Party’s Tenth Regiment in Malaya.

Dr Amrita Malhi (ANU Coral Bell School) and Dr Joshua Gedacht (Rowan University) are co-editors of Itinerario’s forthcoming next issue: Coercing Mobility: Territory & Displacement in the Politics of Southeast Asian Muslim Movements. They are joined by two other contributors, Dr Francis R. Bradley (Pratt Institute) and Dr David Kloos (KITLV), and hosted by Professor Robert Cribb (ANU Coral Bell School).

Norm scholarship in International Relations (IR) tends to investigate the contestation of actors operating at the peak of governance. It therefore overlooks the perspective of ordinary citizens who are directly affected by international norms and institutions. To address such shortcomings, Dr Ruji Auethavornpipat examines backlash against Rohingya refugees among grassroots actors in Malaysia.

In this presentation, Ruji captures backlash as a distinct and radicalized form of contestation. Backlashers do not merely target the validity of specific norms. They engage in normative re-ordering with a larger goal of dismantling existing societal fabric. He seeks to advance the norm literature by making two contributions. First, he integrates insights from backlash politics into IR norm research. Second, he surveys online hate speech to capture the reality of stakeholder engagement during COVID-19.

Dr Ruji Auethavornpipat is a Research Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, the Australian National University. His research examines norm contestation and migrant protection in Southeast Asia. Details of his activities and recent work can be found here:

The modern legal system in Thailand was established in the early twentieth century not as much to save the country from colonialism as to secure the absolutist power of Bangkok’s rulers. It was not the Rule of Law, but a legal system intended to privilege the state, especially for the sake of its security. As the semi-absolute monarchy has been ascending in Thailand today, Thai jurisprudence has shown its true colors.

Thongchai Winichakul is Emeritus Professor of History at University of Wisconsin-Madison and Research Fellow Emeritus at Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO), Japan. He is the author of Siam Mapped (1994) and Moments of Silence: The Unforgetting of the October 6, 1976, Massacre in Bangkok (2020), and has published eight books in Thai. He received the John Simon Guggenheim Award in 1994, was inducted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. He was also President of the Association for Asian Studies in 2013/14. His research interests are in the intellectual foundations of modern Siam under colonial conditions. He is also a critic of Thai political and social issues.

A central question for the development profession is understanding why and how some countries consistently perform strongly according to the usual indicators of development progress. The World Bank’s East Asian Miracle study was a widely cited attempt to explain East Asian economic dynamism. Economists have employed ever more sophisticated econometric tools and larger databases, of the ‘I Just Ran Two Million Regressions’ genre.

In this elusive search, analytical parsimony has obvious attractions as an overarching template. ‘Why Nations Fail’, ‘The Bottom Billion’ and many other famous volumes are examples of this ‘big picture’ approach. The best of these studies draw on economics, political science, history, anthropology and much else to develop an analytical narrative around some unifying themes.

The question Hal asks in this presentation is whether such an approach is feasible and would facilitate a deeper understanding of contemporary Indonesian development dynamics. At least prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had a reasonably good understanding of the main aspects and drivers of the country’s economic development in the democratic era. The deeper question is whether one can develop a workable, comprehensive analytical framework that guides us towards an understanding of the country’s development outcomes.

Hal Hill is H.W. Arndt Professor Emeritus of Southeast Asian Economies at The Australian National University. He works mainly on the economies of Southeast Asia. Details of his activities and recent work can be found here:

Robert Cribb is currently undertaking the writing of a chapter that delves into the historiography of modern Southeast Asia for the upcoming edition of the Cambridge History of Southeast Asia, scheduled for publication in 2024. The field of modern Southeast Asian history, encompassing the era from around 1800 onwards, possesses distinctive characteristics within the broader discipline of history. Notably, it is characterized by a notable dominance of scholars from outside the region, its roots in interdisciplinary area studies, and a lack of a centralized geographical focal point.

In the process of elucidating this field, Cribb has made a deliberate choice to steer away from emphasizing prominent figures and celebrated works. Instead, the focus is directed towards the identification of four prevailing metanarratives that form the basis of most historical writings concerning the period since 1800: Modernist, autonomist, internationalist, and discursive. The chapter concludes by venturing into speculative territory, deviating from the conventional historical approach, as Cribb explores potential future developments in the field with an open and non-traditional perspective.

Robert Cribb is Professor of Asian History in the Department of Political and Social Change. He is a historian of Indonesia with broader interests in Southeast Asia and in Asia as a whole. His interests include political and environmental history, the history of violence and historical geography.

Over the past 30 years, Indonesia has witnessed the growing public prominence of a number of transnational Islamic revivalist movements. These have had a considerable impact on political culture, as the popularity of these movements has gone hand-in-hand with increasingly sectarian views across segments of Indonesian society.

Yet how do such movements successfully transmit their ideas at the grassroots level and present them in ways that influence national political opinion? Chris aims to address this question by focusing on Indonesia’s largest Salafi-influenced organisation, Wahdah Islamiyah, and their activism in the city of Makassar, South Sulawesi.

This talk will illuminate how Wahdah Islamiyah have grown their local network of mosques and schools, and the subtle practices they deploy to frame their Islamic message in ways that both relate to the anxieties of their audience, but also promote a Muslim majoritarian vision of society. More broadly, the talk will conclude by assessing the extent to which such activism can form the basis for broader socio-political mobilisation, and what it may tell us about the health of democratic debate and Islamic social movements in 21st century Indonesia.

Chris Chaplin is an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the Religion and Global Society Research Unit at the London School of Economics and a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Political and Social Change, ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. His research straddles between the fields of anthropology, sociology, and politics, and is particularly focused on exploring the convergence between global Islamic doctrines and local understandings of piety and faith, and how these come to inform civic values, concepts of religious and political belonging, and social activism within Southeast Asia. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge and has recently published the book Salafism and the State: Islamic Activism and National Identity in Contemporary Indonesia with NIAS Press.