At the end of February 2016, David Lowe leads a team of historians, including PhD graduate Dr Eric Meadows, to New Delhi where they will begin the task of writing the history of Australia’s diplomatic representation in India. The first stage of this project takes the form of a symposium sponsored by the Australian High Commission there; and will be followed later in the year with a similar symposium involving former diplomats and historians to be held in Australia.
This initiative follows a project on the history of Australia’s representation in the United States, which is currently being prepared for publication, and an earlier book on the history of the Australian High Commissioners in London. Thus, there is great momentum for research into the history of Australia’s overseas representation, and great opportunities for blended understanding of Australia overseas, including oral histories in the form of witness seminars, inviting former diplomats to recall former experiences, and academic analyses. Consistent with the spirit of undertaking contemporary history, this is research that recovers particular episodes and human voices within the stories of relationships between Australia and other countries, taking into account different vantage points from which to view recent changes.
The New Delhi initiative also marks a logical shift in focus towards Asia and the Pacific, and our hope is that, as the actuality of a ‘series’ of studies of Australia’s representation overseas takes further shape, this focus on Australia in the Indo-Pacific region will also assume greater prominence.