Past events

Greg Dening Memorial Lecture 2017

Professor Joy Damousi presents: 'Out of common humanity'. Humanitarianism, compassion and efforts in Australia to assist Jewish refugees in the 1930s

Monday 9 October

This event has passed. The twitter feed can be viewed at #gregdeningmemorial2017


In June 1935, Edith Roll, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl from Vienna, wrote to her Australian pen-pal Jean Doig, aged 10 from Colac, Victoria. The correspondence was short-lived as Edith and her family were swept up in the violence of the Holocaust. Though Jean’s parents, Keith and Louise Doig, helped the Roll family apply to migrate to Australia, these efforts tragically failed.

Why should the attempt of one family in an Australian country town to assist another in Europe be considered of broader relevance to the monumental events of the mid-twentieth century?

Unsuccessful efforts to evacuate refugees are cursorily dismissed. A different focus, however, would direct our attention to the motivations of people to act who were not otherwise politically engaged. We miss an opportunity to return to the past - as Greg Dening put it - its own present. From this perspective, the Doig family efforts are part of the complex story of Australian migration history. If we choose not to tell these stories, we cannot fully chart how a history of compassion, and more broadly, humanitarianism can be written.

Public lectures (audio files)

22 August 2017

Visiting fellow Dr Benjamin Thomas White from the University of Glasgow (UK) presents a 90 minute public seminar on the history of humanitarian evacuations. Listen on Echo360.

8 October 2016

Professor Peter Gatrell from the University of Manchester (UK) presents a one hour lecture on the making of the modern refugee. Listen on Echo360.

24 March 2015

Professor Joy Damousi presents, 'Child Refugees and Australian Internationalism: Past, Present, Future' as part of the Australia in the World Lecture & Seminar Series. Listen on SoundCloud.

Global Histories of Refugees in the 20th and 21st Centuries Conference

The University of Melbourne
Thursday 6 October - Saturday 8 October 2016

Publications from this conference to follow.