Keynote and alumni catch-up in Japan

Professor Melanie Oppenheimer delivered a keynote speech on 16 June at an annual conference in Japan, as a fitting finale to her University of Tokyo visit and an unexpected opportunity to connect with alumni.

Professor Oppenheimer’s talk at the Australian Studies Association of Japan conference in Tokyo, ‘War Stories: from Global to Local’, focused on 1919 as the beginning of repatriation and reconstruction in the aftermath of the First World War.

She discussed the impact of the war on Australian servicemen and society, drawing on her own family’s experience through the service of her grandfather as a German in the Australian Imperial Force.

With reference also to subsequent conflicts, Professor Oppenheimer analysed the similarities and differences in how each generation experiences war, exploring how family narratives help shape national histories and illustrating the value in seeking out new voices and hidden stories to better understand the impact of war.

Professor Oppenheimer was delighted to connect with two Flinders alumni through the opportunity, who introduced themselves following her talk. Professor Hiroya Sugita is now employed at Kanagawa University (Tokyo) and Professor Michiyo Yoshida at Wakayama University (near Osaka). Both completed their PhDs at Flinders University in the 1990s.

The 2019 conference marked the event’s first collaboration with the Chinese Association for Australian Studies, with academics from both China and Japan presenting papers over the two-day event.

Professor Oppenheimer has been the Visiting Chair in Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo. She will finish her term in mid-July.

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