Historians meet (again) for Eric Richards

The School of History and International Relations is this week hosting an international symposium focusing on Australian-UK migration.

Named in honour of veteran Flinders historian Emeritus Professor Eric Richards, the keynote speakers at this year’s symposium include Professor Richards, Professor Alison Bashford from the University of Cambridge, Professor Joy Damousi (University of Melbourne), Professor Katie Pickles (University of Canterbury) and Professor Philip Payton (Flinders).

Professor Richards is still active after more than 35 years at Flinders working on British and Australian social history, and in particular Scottish history and British and Australian immigration history.

The first Eric Richards Symposium in British and Australasian History follows the 2015 International Seminar in Honour of Professor Richards.

Presentations from the earlier seminar have been published in a new book, entitled Emigrants and Historians – Essays in Honour of Eric Richards (Wakefield Press), to be launched at the symposium at Flinders, Victoria Square today.

In the Emigrants and Historians collection of essays, Professor Payton writes Professor Richards continues to be a “role model and source of inspiration” to students of history, adding his interest in migration and economic history started in his early years in north Wales.

After migrating to Australia, and making Flinders his “academic home for life” in the mid-1980s, Professor Richards’ scholarly output included editing the The Flinders History of South Australia – Social History (Wakefield Press, 1986) for the SA Jubilee 150 celebrations.

The prolific author has many other titles to his credit, including Britannia’s Children – Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland since 1600, a series of volumes including Debating the Highland Clearances (2007) and From Hirta to Port Phillip: The St Kilda Emigration to Australia in 1852.

“Several of Eric’s books have won literary prizes,” Professor Payton says.

“In 2009 he was awarded the New South Wales Premier’s Prize for his volume (published the year before) entitled Destination Australia, which traced emigration to Australia from the early days of Federation through to the demise of the White Australia policy and beyond.”

Professor Payton says the first two Eric Richards conference have paved the way for annual British-Australasian history at Flinders and other Australian and New Zealand universities in future, providing rich networking opportunities for scholars working on British and Australasian history – including imperial and colonial history.

Copies of Emigrants and Historians – Essays in Honour of Eric Richards are available from all good bookshops or direct from Wakefield Press.

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