Lecture: Prof Alison Bashford

CASS invites you to a lecture by Alison Bashford, Professor in History at UNSW.

When: Wednesday 24 October, 2018

Time: 4.00 – 5.30pm

Where: Building 19 Room G016

World History and the Tasman Sea

Did Polynesians navigate to the Australian continent in pre-colonial eras? The consensus is currently no. This lecture does not so much ask ‘why’ – though that interesting question is surprisingly rarely posed. Instead, this lecture explores the significance of the Tasman Sea for world history that is increasingly interested in deep temporal scales and ancient sea crossings. Either side of the Tasman Sea, almost incommensurably different periodisations of human history unfolded. While the Aboriginal past is tens of thousands of years old, the human history of New Zealand/Aotearoa is very recent; the final westward journeys of the Polynesians took place c. 1200-1300CE. This Tasman divide is one of the more extraordinary fault-lines of world history, an almost unique global region in which humans with entirely different histories were adjacent geographically. In the recent integration of Pacific history into world history, what is the place of the Tasman Sea?


Alison Bashford is Research Professor in History at UNSW. Her work connects the history of science, global history, and environmental history into new assessments of the modern world, from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. She has recently focused on the geopolitics of world population, presented in two books: The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus: Re-reading the Principle of Population, with Joyce E. Chaplin (Princeton University Press, 2016) and Global Population: History, Geopolitics and Life on Earth (Columbia University Press, 2014). Before taking up her Research Chair at UNSW, Alison Bashford was the Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge, Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and Trustee of Royal Museums, Greenwich, UK. In 2009-10, she was the Whitlam and Fraser Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University’s Department of the History of Science. She has researched and taught at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University. Alison Bashford is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Australian Academy of Humanities. In May 2018, she presented the Wiles Lectures at Queen’s University, Belfast.