History, culture and regional intersections

Societies, economies and cultures are a product of their individual histories. Historical connections, historical events and unresolved historical claims influence modern international relationships and can have major geopolitical consequences.


To better understand contemporary Asian societies, we focus on several specific historical lenses:

  • the history of nationalism and militarism in Japan and the aftermath and consequences of the Second World War in the Pacific region, also considering diplomatic alliances among Japan, Australia and the US in the 1950s
  • the historical legacies of colonialism and other forms of state organisation
  • the history of trans-regional economic and social connections that bind the peoples of Northeast and Southeast Asia together, but also drive conflict and change in their current diplomatic and trade relationships; for example, the cultural–ecological relations of maritime states in Southeast Asia
  • links between post-colonial identities, migration and diasporas
  • cultural reflections on these conflicts, issues and political questions as represented in art, theatre, literature and other creative works.

For more information contact Prof. Sandra Wilson (cluster leader), S.Wilson@murdoch.edu.au, ph. 9360 2522.

  • Key researchers

    Dr Dean Aszkielowicz

    A/Prof. Mick Broderick

    Dr Rahul Gairola

    Prof. Helena Grehan

    Prof. Rikki Kersten

    Prof. Vijay Mishra

    Dr Takeshi Moriyama

    Dr Arjun Subrahmanyan

    Prof. James Warren

    Prof. Sandra Wilson (cluster leader)

  • Selected publications

    Dean Aszkielowicz, 2017, The Australian Pursuit of Japanese War Criminals, 1943–1958: From Foe to Friend, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

    Mick Broderick, 2016, Reconstructing Strangelove: Inside Stanley Kubric’s “Nightmare Comedy”, New York: Columbia University Press.

    Mick Broderick (with R Jacobs), 2015, Fukushima and the Shifting Conventions of Documentary: From Cinema and Broadcast to Social Media Netizenship in Camile Deprez and Judith Perine (eds), Post-1990 Documentary: Reconfiguring Independence, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 217–32.

    Rahul Gairola, 2016, Homelandings: Postcolonial Diasporas and Transatlantic Belonging, London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield International.

    Rahul Gairola, 2018, Sounds Like Resistance: Digital Collaboration as a Politics of Desi People in the Soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Digital Humanities in India Special Issue, Asian Quarterly: An International Journal of Contemporary Issues

    Helena Grehan (with P Eckersall and E Scheer), 2017, New Media Dramaturgy: Performance, Media and New Materialism, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Helena Grehan, 2009, Performance, Ethics and Spectatorship in a Global Age, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Rikki Kersten, 2015, Contextualising Australia–Japan Security Cooperation: The Normative Framing of Japanese Security Policy, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 70,1: 6–23.

    Vijay Mishra, 2012, What was Multiculturalism? A Critical Retrospective. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

    Vijay Mishra, 2011, Understanding Bollywood in Robert S. Fortner and P. Mark Fackler (eds), The Handbook of Global Communication and Media Ethics, New York: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 577–601.

    Arjun Subrahmanyan, 2015, Fiction and social consciousness in interwar Siam: Thai elite culture in crisis and transition, South East Asia Research, 23,4: 567–580.

    Arjun Subrahmanyan, 2015, Education, Propaganda and the People: Democratic Paternalism in 1930s Siam, Modern Asian Studies, 49,4: 1122–1142.

    James Warren, 2009, Pirates, Prostitutes and Pullers. Explorations in the Ethno-and Social History of Southeast Asia, Perth: UWA Press.

    James Warren, 2014, Trade for Bullion to Trade for Commodities and “Piracy”: China, the West and the Sulu Zone, 1768-1898, in S Amirell and L Muller (eds), Persistent Piracy: Maritime Violence and State-Formation in Global Historical Perspective, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 152–174.

    Sandra Wilson (ed.), 2002, Nation and Nationalism in Japan, London: Routledge Curzon.

    Sandra Wilson, Dean Aszkielowicz (with R Cribb and B Trefalt), 2017, Japanese War Criminals: the Politics of Justice After the Second World War, New York: Columbia University Press.

    Sandra Wilson, 2012, Exhibiting a New Japan: The Tokyo Olympics of 1964 and Expo '70 in Osaka, Historical Research, 85, 227: 159–178.

  • Major projects

    Mick Broderick (with R Jacobs and P Brown): Nuclear Futures, Australian Council for the Arts, 2014–16.

    Mick Broderick (with R Jacobs): The Global Hibakusha Project, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2011–14.

    Helena Grehan (with P Eckersall, E Scheer, C Wake, J Reinelt and E Paterson): Power and Performance: Revaluing Theatre in the 21st century, ARC Discovery Project, 2016–18.

    Helena Grehan (with P Eckersall and E Scheer): New Media Dramaturgy: How New Media Transform the Composition and Reception of Live Performance, ARC Discovery Project, 2011–13.

    Vijay Mishra: The Agony of Arrival: A Critical Study of the Works of V.S. Naipaul, ARC Discovery Project, 2017–2019.

    Vijay Mishra: The Genesis of Secrecy: Annotating Salman Rushdie, Australian Professorial Fellowship, Australian Research Council Discovery Project, 2010–14.

    James Warren and a multi-country team: Pearls, People and Power: Global Commodity History and Material Culture in the Transformation of the Indian Ocean World, 16th-20th Centuries, ARC Discovery Project, 2015–18.

    Sandra Wilson (with R Cribb): War Crimes and the Japanese Military, 1941–1945, ARC Discovery Project, 2015–2017.

    Sandra Wilson (with B Trefalt and R Cribb): Repatriation and Release of Japanese War Criminals 1946–1958: Southeast Asia, Japan and the Great Powers, ARC Discovery Project, 2011–13.