AHA Conference in Brisbane

I don’t mean to drive you wild with jealousy, but in mid-July while Melbourne shivered through its coldest day of the year, Lucy and I had the pleasure of travelling north to Brisbane for the 2014 Australian Historical Association (AHA) conference. The conference was held at the University of Queensland, St Lucia, in glorious, warm winter sunshine. We ate lunch with colleagues on the grassy lawns, gazing up in admiration at the surrounding sandstone buildings, and we even had to break out the sunhats and sunscreen – I kid you not!

But warm weather and beautiful location aside, the conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleagues and enjoy presentations around the conference theme ‘Conflict in History’. While many sessions focused on war history, the theme was interpreted broadly and there were also papers on a wide range of topics such as feminism, sexuality, indigenous history and history making. We particularly enjoyed Ann McGrath's presentation about an indigenous woman, Alice Kelly, who became involved in the management of archaeological work conducted with human remains at Lake Mungo. We're very much looking forward to seeing the film Ann has co-produced, 'Message From Mungo'.

Lucy presented as part of PHA (Vic)’s session for the conference – a replay of last year’s History Week event ‘Well-behaved women seldom make history’. Despite being one of twelve sessions held concurrently, it attracted an audience of over sixty people! Clare Wright was a wonderfully engaging host, and the presentations showed off the skills of professional historians in presenting history that is both informative and entertaining. While originally developed with a general audience in mind, the event also seemed to be very well-received by an audience of fellow historians. A PhD student was even inspired to write about it in a blog post!

Lucy and I also really enjoyed Professional Historians Australia's affiliated conference, visiting the University's Anthropology Museum and taking an exclusive look at the WWI material held in the Fryer Library. We celebrated the launch of the fourth issue of PHA’s Journal of Professional Historians, Circa, in style one evening at Brisbane’s Old Government House. Following the launch we were treated to a tour of the stunning early 1860s building, including some rather beautiful fireplace tiles, which you can see in the photos below.

Although we attended just two days of the AHA and PHA conferences, we had a fantastic time, and not only because of the rejuvenating Brisbane sun! 

Fiona Poulton