From heart-to-heart chats to 'national conversations', dialogue is often held up as a model of responsible and productive interaction. Yet at times, calls for more dialogue seem to mask monological presuppositions that 'everyone' will end up agreeing to the same thing.

In this talk, Professor Matt Tomlinson examines the different meanings of monologue and dialogue and the ways they are related in political and religious speech. Drawing on detailed and long-term ethnographic research in Fiji, Samoa, and Australia, he describes the ways in which political and religious speakers make claims about what counts as dialogue, who gets to participate, and what happens when dialogue fails to take shape or falls apart. Examples come from diverse contexts ranging from casual kava-session conversations to formal chiefly oratory and from spirit mediums’ dialogues with the dead to preachers’ assertions of what they consider universal truths. In examining the relationship between monologue and dialogue, Matt explores themes of challenge, vulnerability, consensus, and commitment. Ultimately, monologue and dialogue can be seen as always co-present tendencies in particular political and religious speech genres.



6-7pm Academic Lecture

7-7.30pm Networking drinks & canapes


About the Speaker

Matt Tomlinson is Professor at the School of Culture, History and Language in the College of Asia and the Pacific.

He is a sociocultural anthropologist who studies the relationship between language, politics, and religious ritual. His work focuses on how people organise themselves to communicate with 'extrahuman' figures (including God, ancestors, and spirits) and what social effects such ritual communication has.

Matt's diverse research interests encompass various aspects of Oceania, including Fiji, Samoa, and Australia. He delves into language, culture, religion, ritual, theology, Christianity, and spiritualism.

Read more about Matt's profile here.


Professorial Lecture Series

This public lecture is the second in a series of four lectures that aim to celebrate our esteemed academics and showcase their areas of expertise in research and teaching.



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.

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


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.

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. 

Monty Pounder examines Indonesia's pursuit of military power, exploring factors driving acceleration and the contestation process.

In 2019, Indonesia’s newly re-elected president Joko Widodo installed his then-rival Prabowo Subianto as defence minister – arguably the most powerful figure in that role in the democratic era. Subianto seemed to breathe life into long-held goals for Indonesia to build the conventional power necessary for it to project force over its vast maritime domain. Subianto’s ambitious bid to upgrade the country’s military capabilities included at least a dozen major contracts for air and naval platforms from foreign suppliers.

Subianto’s achievements, however, fell short of what he had originally sought. He had proposed more than doubling the military’s budget. Yet the overall defence budget remained low throughout his term. Public comments by the President and Finance Minister suggested their resistance to his proposed agenda. His legacy, therefore, is unclear and will in some respects be at the mercy of Indonesia’s next government.

This PhD proposes to take Subianto’s term as defence minister as the starting point for an examination of Indonesia’s acquisition of major military capabilities. The research proposes to engage with the acquisition process from two perspectives. What were the local and systemic factors that help explain Indonesia’s decision to dramatically accelerate its pursuit of externally oriented military capabilities? What was the process of contestation that, at least in the example of Subianto’s term, ultimately constrained the realisation of these policies?

The study will contrast events between Widodo’s two terms in reference to broader patterns in Indonesian history. The tenure of Subianto’s predecessor (who boasted of never seeking to import military equipment) offers a striking counterpoint that will help draw out the changes and continuities at play in Indonesian defence policy and international posture more broadly.

About the Speaker  
Monty Pounder commenced a PhD program as a Sir Roland Wilson Scholar in 2023. Monty is at ANU on leave from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His last role at DFAT was Deputy Head of Mission in Baghdad and he has also served overseas in Jakarta and New York.


Zoom link 
Meeting ID: 878 8316 8602
Passcode: 297892

This seminar will discuss Bougainville's delayed post-referendum process, ABG's push for independence, consultations & disagreements.

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

The referendum for Bougainvilleans on Bougainville’s future political status, 23 November to 11 December, saw 97.7 per cent vote for independence and 1.7 per cent for ‘greater autonomy’. The referendum result was not binding on PNG, but neither was the referendum purely advisory or consultative for PNG. Instead, the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) and PNG Constitution mandate a three-stage post-referendum decision making process in relation to the results - mandatory consultation between PNG and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), then decision-making by the PNG Parliament, with the possibility also arising of any ‘differences’ about the referendum being referred to a three stage inter-government dispute resolution process. Unlike the BPA provisions on weapons disposal, autonomy, and actual conduct of the referendum, the BPA contains no provision on either incentives for implementing the post-referendum decision-making arrangements, or a time-table within which they should operate. Despite general agreement before the referendum that post-referendum consultations should begin very soon after the referendum, they in fact did not start for 18 months, in May 2021. Despite hopes of ABG Leaders being raised in the first two consultation meetings that PNG was close to agreeing the ABG demand for early recognition of Bougainville independence, by the third meeting, in December 2021, it was clear agreement was not close, and the ABG declared the consultations over. The focus of effort then shifted to discussion of how a decision would be reached on the referendum results, and officials negotiated the terms of an agreement signed by the leadership in April 2022 – the Era Kone Covenant – which envisaged the two governments agreeing on how the results would be tabled in the PNG Parliament and a decision made on the results. Over a year later, with no agreement reached on those matters, the PNG Minister for Bougainville Affairs made a statement to the Parliament on 13 June 2023, on the next steps, which should see the results tabled later in 2023, and after a Parliamentary Committee conducts a nation-wide ‘awareness and consultation’ process, debate and a decision by Parliament would be possible in 2024. The ABG has made strong criticisms of aspects of the minister’s proposals.

This seminar will discuss: why the post-referendum decision-making process began so long after the referendum: the ABG position on independence advanced in the consultations; why the ABG is seeking PNG agreement to Bougainville independence; why the consultation meetings ended in December 2021; the basis for disagreements over the process since then; issues involved in both tabling of the referendum results in, and decision-making about the results, by the Parliament; why a decision of Parliament on independence for Bougainville can be expected in 2024.

Event Speakers

Anthony Regan

Professor Anthony Regan

Anthony is a constitutional lawyer who specialises in constitutional development and conflict resolution. He has been an adviser to Bougainville parties in the Bougainville peace process since 1994, and has been involved in the Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka peace processes, and the constitution-making process in Timor Leste.

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.

At the height of the 2020 protests, the Thai government implemented vigorous online censorship to curb public criticism of the monarchy. In doing so the government cited its obligation to safeguard Thailand’s ‘cyber sovereignty’, which is the focus of this talk. I argue that this concept is constructed as a tool that can be wielded opportunistically to ensure regime security, which largely depends on the security of the throne. Notably, the Thai state’s construction of cyber sovereignty is modeled on territorial sovereignty: it has elements of territorial nationhood, insofar as cyberspace is treated as if it has a physical existence. However, this conceptualisation of cyber sovereignty is flawed: it elides the significant differences between these two forms of sovereignty, particularly regarding sovereign power and its limits. Despite its flawed nature, the Thai case is part of a wider ongoing debate about cyber sovereignty, whereby some countries promote tighter Internet controls while others support a more liberal cyber regime.


About the speaker

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is Associate Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. He is the chief editor of the online journal Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia. His forthcoming book, as editor, is titled Rama X: The Thai Monarchy under King Vajiralongkorn and will be released in the Summer by Yale University.


Join us for a talk on cyber sovereignty and government control of the internet, drawing on Thailand's online censorship during the 2020 protests. Pavin argues that cyber sovereignty is used as a tool for regime security and is flawed in its model of territorial nationhood. This discussion is part of a wider debate on internet control.

Does international affairs fascinate you? Gaining insights from industry representatives can help you clarify your career aspirations and make informed choices.

ANU Careers and the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs warmly invite International Relations, Diplomacy, Security Studies, Pacific Studies, and Political Science students to attend the upcoming panel discussion on future careers and meet potential employers. This is an opportunity to hear from a range of organisations (private sector, consulting, the UN and the Australian Government) so that you can better understand the job market and help you plan ahead for your career after study.

The speakers for the panel are:

*David Brown - Operations Manager at Systems Planning and Analysis

*Louisa Minney - Director in Advisory at PwC

*Maria Shumusti- Communications Officer at World Food Program (WFP), Fiji office; and

*A representative from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Agency

Gain insights from the speakers on what their organisations do and opportunities they offer students.

The ANU Careers team will also discuss how to find information about the job market and job search strategies including how to understand job advertisements.

Event Speakers

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Louisa Minney

Louisa is an experienced senior executive with over 20 years’ experience in facilitating strategic change across government, multi and bi-lateral organisations and academia in Australia and internationally.

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David Brown

David joined SPA Australia following a 24-year career as a Weapons Engineer with the Navy. David served on submarines and warships. His shore postings in capability development stimulated his interest in using operations research to provide mission-focussed, evidence-based decision support for complex and critical topics.

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Maria Shumusti

Maria finished a Master's in International Relations at ANU in 2020. Maria oversees the communications and media for WFP in the Pacific. She is currently running the Donate Responsibly campaign that informs people about why during disasters, not all goodwill does well and highlight effective and responsible ways to donate.

To welcome our new students and kick-off the new semester, please join us for our first Bell School ‘In conversation’ event with three practitioners across the disciplines of international affairs, security studies and Asia-Pacific politics.

Moderated by Professor Paul Hutchcroft from our Department of Political and Social Change, our speakers will share their perspectives on the importance of studying these disciplines in the context of today’s world, the importance of Asia and the Pacific region to Australia, their personal stories and advice on career paths.

This event is an opportunity for students to make new connections, expand their network, and learn about potential career paths.

Event Speakers

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Ridwaan Jadwat

Ridwaan Jadwat is First Assistant Secretary, Southeast Asia Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and has held the role of Australia’s Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation since December 2018.

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Celia Perkins

Celia is Deputy Secretary Security and Estate Department of Defence (Formerly First Assistant Secretary Strategic Policy 2019-2021) and ANU alumna.

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Fiona Terry

Fiona is Head of the Centre for Operational Research at International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) in Geneva and PhD alumna from the ANU Department of International Relations.

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

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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.

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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.