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


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

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.

Please join PhD candidate Opeta Alefaio as he provides an update during his research journey.

Please note that this is a hybrid event. For online attendance please sign up to obtain the Zoom link. Access link will be delivered via email upon registration.

Modern day Pacific knowledge (data, information, records, publications) as a subset of Pacific Knowledge is largely absent from current Pacific discourse, only appearing when there is an embarrassing information/data failure. In such cases the consequences of the failure is centre of attention, with little or no emphasis placed on improving the capacity and quality of information management to prevent future failures; effectively kicking the can down the road. There is a pattern of presuming the availability of information and data, without acknowledging the need to design, implement, and maintain information management systems from which such information and data should flow. Or in the blunt language of the private sector, we are expecting a quality product, but don’t care if there is a supply chain. This PhD proposal seeks to foreground the undermining of the information management sector and subsequent impact on Pacific aspirations, governance, and developmental goals, using political economy analysis, autoethnography, and historical examination to research the sector in the Republic of Fiji, The University of the South pacific, The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and The Secretariat of the Pacific Community; in order to map out the structures and drivers causing the belittlement of Pacific knowledge.

Event Speakers

Opeta Alefaio
PhD Scholar

Opeta Alefaio is a full time PhD candidate with the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs.

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.



There are recurrent debates in strategic studies that go back to Antiquity, before the word “strategy” even assumed its modern meanings.

They concern the role of chance, the role of higher forces (God, historical inevitability, having justice on one’s side…), the predictability of the outcome of battles and wars, and more recently, the nature of future wars. A key debate pitting the Clausewitzian School against Social Science Positivism but also against those interested mainly in International Relations Theories can also be traced back over the centuries: can strategic studies provide “principles of war” or prescriptions, or can they serve only to reflect on wars in general and a particular war so as to educate the minds of leaders who will have to judge and decide for themselves on what to do in each situation?

Beatrice Heuser is the Jeffrey Grey Visiting Professor at the Australian War College. She holds the Chair in IR at the University of Glasgow. She previously taught at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London; then at the University of Reading. She has also taught at French and German universities (most recently the universities of Sorbonne and Paris Panthéon-Assas, and at Sciences Po’ Paris). From 1997-1998 she worked at NATO HQ in Brussels. She holds degrees from the Universities of London (BA, MA), Oxford (DPhil), Marburg (Habilitation).

Her publications include The Evolution of Strategy (2010), Reading Clausewitz (2002), Strategy before Clausewitz (2017), with Eitan Shamir (eds) Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies: National Styles and Strategic Cultures (2017) and, most recently, WAR: A Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices (2022). She has also worked for the Bundeswehr, most recently lecturing at its General Staff College (Führungsakademie) in Hamburg, is a Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institution, and a Visiting Fellow at the Royal Navy Strategic Studies Centre.

Moderated by Dr Katrin Travouillon from our  Department of Political and Social Change, the panelists make two key arguments. Firstly, the term ‘interference’ is not confined to actions that challenge a regime’s leadership, but may also encompass acts of shoring up regimes that lack popular support. Secondly, China’s ‘non-interference’ rhetoric is not demonstrated in the context of Cambodia, where it has on multiple occasions, interfered to reinforce Prime Minister Hun Sen’s leadership.

To illustrate the above arguments, the discussants will touch upon the history of Beijing’s interference in Cambodia with a focus on areas where Hun Sen’s regime backs China’s geostrategic interests.

This panel discussion will examine China’s non-interference policy, taking Cambodia as a case study.

Event Speakers

profile default

Sovinda Po

Sovinda is a PhD candidate in International Relations at Griffith University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. His research agenda evolves the relationship between China and mainland Southeast Asia and the strategic use of minilateral institutions by both major powers and small states.

profile default

Dr Kearrin Sims

Kearrin is a critical development scholar trained in sociology and international relations. Through ethnographic research methods and extensive in-country fieldwork, Kearrin examines the uneven ways in which development projects and interventions are encountered and experienced by vulnerable communities.