Friday, June 29, 2012

JULY 2012

July in Canberra may be cold and dark and generally unpleasant but there is a remarkable range of talks by exceptional speakers on the most important issues facing Australia and the world including climate change, racial discrimination, trade and development and, of course, sex.

Meanwhile, one of the best talks of June was delivered by Professor Tom Griffiths on Douglas Mawson’s expeditions in Antarctica. A dry topic? Not at all! Prof Griffiths’ talk was learned, but also frequently hilarious and his ability to draw out the wider significance of events in the context of Australia and scientific history is exceptional. Fortunately, Radio National has made available a recording of the talk at the following link: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/celebrating-sir-douglas-mawson-in-antarctica/4053466

By the way, the National Gallery has really ramped up its program of events, including talks by curators and art historians. Attending a talk is a great way to get a fresh perspective on the touring exhibitions as well as the Gallery’s own standing collections. For example, the talk by Dr Philip Jones last month on the depictions of aboriginal subjects in the paintings of Eugene von Guerard was exceptional. You can see the full calendar of events at the Gallery at the following link:

Tuesday 3 July
Title: Coal seam gas - alternative energy source or environmental hazard
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Australian Academy of Science (‘Shine Dome’), ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

The extraction of coal seam gas in Australia has been the cause of a lot of concern and provoked much public and political debate. Professor Sue Golding of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Queensland is a world-renowned expert on coal seam gas and carbon sequestration in sedimentary basins and should be able to give the perfect primer on the possible groundwater and surface water impacts of coal seam gas production and how planning will need to take into account not only the economic wealth of the gas but also the implications for agriculture and other sectors.

Tuesday 3 July
Title: Sex lives of Australians – a history
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Smiths Alternative Bookshop, Melbourne Building, 76 Alinga Street
Cost: Free, registration required

Journalist and author Frank Bongiorno’s new book looks at sex in Australia from the arrival of the earliest European colonists (think: cross-dressing bushrangers) to the present-day. How has the history of Australia as a convict colony with a disproportionately male population shaped our current attitudes to sex? What is ‘mateship’ really all about anyway? This should be an entertaining and informative talk.

Thursday 5 July
Title: Travel Writers, Botanic Gardens and the Nineteenth Century British Empire in Australia
Time: 12:30pm
Venue: Australian National Botanic Gardens Theatrette
Cost: Free

Dr Roslyn Russell will discuss how nineteenth century travel writers viewed Australia's botanic gardens. Within a hundred years of European settlement, a network of botanic gardens had been established in Australia under the direction of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Accounts of these gardens by authors including Anthony Trollope and Mark Twain were more than colourful travelogues. They were reporting on the progress of the imperial civilising mission in Australia. Dr Russell is a historian, author, editor and museum consultant whose books include ‘Literary Links: Celebrating the Literary Relationship between Australia and Britain’, and ‘One Destiny! The Federation Story: How Australia Became a Nation’.

Thursday 5 July
Title: Indifferent Inclusion: Aboriginal People and the Australian Nation
Time: 4:00 – 5:30pm
Venue: Conference room, National Library
Cost: Free, bookings required

Author Russell McGregor will introduce his latest book ‘Indifferent Inclusion: Aboriginal People and the Australian Nation’ which describes race relations in Australia in the mid-twentieth century. This was a time when the policies of the ‘stolen generation’ were still being applied and it was a period of great activism leading up to the Constitutional referendum of 1967. This should be a fascinating talk. McGregor’s book has been shortlisted for the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards Prize for Australian History. You can read the first chapter of the book via the following link: http://www.arts.gov.au/funding/awards/pmla/2012/shortlists/history/indifferent-inclusion


Thursday 5 July
Title: Reluctant Rescuers
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Paperchain bookstore, Manuka
Cost: Free, booking required

In light of recent events, Tony Kevin’s latest book ‘Reluctant Rescuers’ is very timely. It looks at how Australia’s obligations to provide assistance to vessels in distress have come up against its policies to combat and disrupt people smuggling operations. Tony Kevin is a former Australian Ambassador and in this book he looks in detail at the actions of government agencies during four recent boat tragedies.

Wednesday 11 July
Title: Prohibition of racial discrimination in the Australian Constitution
Time: 12:30 – 1:30pm
Venue: Innovation Centre, University of Canberra
Cost: Free, booking required

Professor Mick Dodson will discuss the work underway to hold a national referendum on the Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. An expert panel appointed by the Government has held consultations around the country and presented its findings to the Government earlier this year (see: http://www.youmeunity.org.au/final-report). Among other things, the Panel recommended removing two sections of the constitution that permitted discrimination against races in voting, and in making special laws.

Professor Dodson is a prominent advocate on land rights and other issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. From August 1988 to October 1990 Professor Dodson was Counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and he was Australia's first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. He is currently Director of the Northern Land Council.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Title: From ritual sex to sexual individuality: Tradition and modernity in Sambia sexual culture
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm
Venue: Hedley Bull Centre, Garran Road, ANU
Cost: Free


Professor Gilbert Herdt (San Francisco State University) conducted research on male initiation rites among the Sambia people of Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s. He returned there in 2010 to look at the effect on sexuality and gender rituals that had been wrought by modernity and HIV. Prof Herdt is a cultural anthropologist and founder of the National Sexuality Resource Center in the United States. In addition to PNG, he has also conducted research in Chicago and the Bay Area of California on issues of sexuality, sexual orientation development, sexual health and policy.


Wednesday 11 July
Title: Designing climate policy for a volatile world
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Venue: J. G. Crawford Building, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Professor Warwick McKibbin will discuss how current global and Australian policies to tackle climate change will bear up in the face of changing economic and technological circumstances. Prof McKibbin is the Director of the ANU Research School of Economics and was previously a member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Monday 16 July
Title: Geometry and gravity
Time: 5:30 – 6:30pm
Venue: Manning Clark Theatre 3, Union Court, ANU
Cost: Free

Professor Gerhard Huisken of Tübingen University will discuss how classical geometry is reappearing in the modern analysis of physical phenomena related to gravity, including the descriptions of stars and black holes. Classical geometry was of course the basis for the laws of motion formulated by Kepler to describe the observed behaviour of the planets.

Tuesday 17 July
Title: Asset price bubbles, and how to save the real economy from them
Time: 5:15 – 6:15 pm
Venue: J. G. Crawford Building, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Nobel Laureate Professor Sir James Mirrlees will deliver the annual Crawford School Oration. Professor Mirrlees’ field is the economic theory of incentives and the effects of asymmetric information. He is a pioneer of optimal taxation theory, the approach to design of taxes based on maximising revenue while causing minimum distortion to incentives and overall economic performance.

Tuesday 17 July
Title: A Meander Down a River or Two – How Water Defines Our Continent and Its Future
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm
Venue: Foyer, National Library
Cost: Free, registration required

Environmental scientist, Professor Richard Kingsford, will talk about the challenges of managing Australia’s rivers in the face of increasing population and the growing attraction of Australian agricultural land as a source of produce for the increasingly wealthy populations of Asia. Professor Kingsford is Director of the Australian Wetlands and Rivers Centre at the University of NSW and his research focus has included the waterbirds, wetlands and rivers of this arid continent. He is a member of the Australian Government’s Environmental Flows Scientific Committee.

Here’s a recent article by Prof Kingsford about the negotiations currently underway to try to restore environmental flows of water through the Murray-Darling river system of Southeast Australia:

Wednesday 18 July
Title: Australian East Coast contact before 1770
Time: 4:00 – 5:00pm
Venue: Innovation Building, ANU
Cost: Free

Emeritus Professor John Molony – formerly Professor of Australian History at ANU – will examine the evidence for European contact with the east coast of Australia prior to the arrival of James Cook in 1770. He will look at the maritime capability of European (principally Portuguese) navigators of the 17th and 18th centuries as well as the evidence from contemporary maps such as the Vallard map of 1547.

Thursday 19 July
Title: The global economy: Implications of world trade and emerging economies in the Asia Pacific
Time: 5:15 – 6:15pm
Venue: Crawford Building, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Professor Jagdish Bhagwati is one of the most important theorists of international trade going around and is an influential advocate of free trade. He is senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and has also served as special advisor to the GATT, WTO and the UN.

Thursday 26 July
Title: Prohibition of chemical weapons
Time: 6:30 – 8:00pm
Venue: Law Link Theatre, ANU College of Law, Building 5, Fellows Road
Cost: Free

Ahmet Uzumcu, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will deliver the 2012 ‘John Gee memorial lecture’. For those of you who don’t know, the OPCW was established under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention to ensure the implementation of its provisions, principally “to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons”. To read about how the OPCW does this, check out the following website:

31 July
Title: In an age awash with information, how easily we forget the past
Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm
Venue: Foyer, National Library
Cost: $30 (members), $40 (non-members), booking required

In an era of previously unimagined access to information, it is easy to neglect the value of history as a guide to current events and future developments. Respected journalist and current affairs TV presenter, Kerry O’Brien, will be reflect on this question and what we can do about it.


* The information on this site is drawn from the websites of various institutions. The web addresses are supplied. Check the websites to confirm details.

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