[POSTPONED] From "Anxious Nation" to "Stranded Nation"-Professor David Walker AM in Conversation with Professor Stephen FitzGerald AO

David W Talk Update


The two books, Anxious Nation and Stranded Nation examine Australian responses to Asia from the 1850s to the 1970s. Together they argue that the response to Asia has played a central role in the formation of the Australian nation. Both studies address issues of race, white prestige and belonging, first in a world governed by the British and from the 1940s, in a world shaken and transformed by decolonization. David Walker and Stephen FitzGerald will explore the threats and opportunities arising from Australia’s proximity to Asia and shifting rationales/responses to the ‘White Australia’ Policy.


Professor David Walker AMDavid walker

David Walker was the inaugural BHP Chair of Australian Studies at Peking University (2013-2016). His extensive writing on Australian representations of Asia includes Stranded Nation: White Australia in an Asian Region (UWA Publishing 2019). This is a companion to Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise of Asia, 1850 to 1939 (UQP, 1999) which was translated into Chinese and Hindi. He is the co-editor with Agnieszka Sobocinska of Australia’s Asia: From Yellow Peril to Asian Century (UWA Publishing, 2012). His Asia-related essays have appeared as Encountering Turbulence: Asia in the Australian Imaginary (Readworthy, 2013). In a different vein he has written a ‘personal history’, Not Dark Yet (Giramondo, 2011) exploring family, memory and his experience of becoming ‘legally blind’. A Chinese translation (光明行) was published in 2014. David Walker is an Alfred Deakin Professor, Deakin University and an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He received an AM in 2018.

Professor Stephen FitzGerald AO (opens in a new window)Steve F bio

Stephen FitzGerald is the Adjunct Professor of ACIAC. Stephen began his professional career as a diplomat, studied Chinese and became a China specialist. As China specialist he has been diplomat, academic, think tank director and expert consultant to government and business. He was China adviser to Gough Whitlam in opposition and as Prime Minister, Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, and later, at the beginning of China’s opening to the outside world, established the first private consultancy for Australians dealing with China, which he ran until 2008.

He chaired the 1980s committee of the Asian Studies Association of Australia which shaped the Association’s policy for Asian Studies and Languages in Australian education and later became chair of the government body established to address that policy, the Asian Studies Council. This Council wrote a strategy for Asia in Australian education. He subsequently founded the Asia-Australia Institute, dedicated to making Australia part of the Asian region through think tank activities and ideas-generation by regional leaders meeting in regular forums in the region’s capitals. He chaired the government’s Committee to Advise on Australia’s Immigration Policies, which wrote the landmark report, Immigration. A Commitment to Australia. He has been advisor to the Federal and Northern Territory governments, and the governments of Australia, Britain, Denmark and others on governance-related aid in China and Southeast Asia.

He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University, a Board Member of China Matters, an independent policy initiative dedicated to raising the quality of public discussion of China and Australia’s relations with it, and Vice President of the organizing committee for a Museum of Chinese in Australia.