New Appointments

The Laureate Centre for History & Population is delighted to announce the appointment of three new postdocs and a centre manager.  

Dr Naomi Parkinson, Laureate Centre Manager, is a scholar of imperial and colonial history, specialising in slavery and its aftermath in the British Empire. Most recently a Postdoctoral Fellow on the ‘Inquiring into Empire’ project at UNSW, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. 

Dr Stephen Pascoe, Laureate Postdoctoral Fellow, is a historian of cities, infrastructure, and imperialism who works primarily on the modern Middle East and the Global French Empire. Dr. Pascoe joins UNSW from the University of California, Irvine, where he was recently a Mellon Humanities Faculty Fellow in the School of Humanities. Dr. Pascoe also holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine.  

Dr Emma Thomas, Laureate Postdoctoral Fellow, is a historian of gender, labour, and colonialism who focuses on transnational histories of Oceania and Europe. Dr. Thomas joins UNSW from the University of Michigan, where she held Fellowships at the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies and the Institute of Humanities. Dr. Thomas’ Ph.D. is also from the University of Michigan. 

We look forward to their contributions to the Centre over the coming years!  

Apply to be Centre Manager

Applications are currently open for a Centre Manager to manage the day-to-day and long-term strategic operations of the Laureate Centre for History & Population. You can find more details, including the link to apply, remuneration information, and a full position description by following this link.

In mid 2021 we will appoint a Centre Manager to manage the activities of the Laureate Centre for History & Population at UNSW and provide support to Centre Director Professor Alison Bashford, associated project teams, and other internal and external stakeholders. The successful candidate will be appointed for a fixed-term of five years (0.8FTE).

The Laureate Centre for History & Population is a 5-year Australian Research Council-funded research centre directed by Professor Alison Bashford. Working with Professor Bashford and the Laureate team, the Project Officer/Coordinator will organise conferences, seminars, lectures and workshops, develop and manage communications, contribute to a range of projects at various stages of development, administer budgets, and take responsibility for the Centre website. An understanding of or experience in historical research will be highly regarded.

Applications close on April 30 2021. The successful candidate will commence in mid 2021. Apply here.

About the role

  • $88,782 to $94,709 + 17% Super and Leave Loading (pro-rata) 
  • 5-year Fixed-Term contract – commencing mind June 2021
  • Part-Time – 28 hrs/per week

Specific responsibilities for this role include:

  • Coordinate Centre administration including the organisation of conferences, seminars and lectures, internal workshops and meetings. Manage promotional activities, logistics, minute taking, the management of assigned actions and status reporting.
  • Develop and manage effective communications with key national and international stakeholders, both internal and external to the project, and maintain the Centre’s website.
  • Support Professor Bashford and Centre academic staff in research funding bids, the appointment of personnel, and delivery of Centre projects and initiatives to achieve operational and strategic goals.
  • Support Professor Bashford’s management of related research teams and projects.
  • Contribute to the development of Centre plans and schedules and participate in planning processes as required.
  • Monitor, track and report on the status of deliverables to ensure time, cost and quality metrics are in line with approved plans and budgets.
  • Provide practical and proactive support and administrative services to the Centre team and stakeholders covering proposals for research funding, financials, and file management.
  • Assess and monitor Centre risks and issues and provide solutions where applicable. Assist in the monitoring of research activity and quality.
  • Support adherence to UNSW governance pathways to ensure projects are managed within a defined, consistent and proven set of rules for project development.
  • Align with and actively demonstrate the UNSW Values in Action: Our Behaviours and the UNSW Code of Conduct
  • Cooperate with all health and safety policies and procedures of the university and take all reasonable care to ensure that your actions or omissions do not impact on the health & safety of yourself or others.  

About the successful applicant (Selection Criteria)

  • Relevant tertiary qualification with subsequent relevant experience or equivalent competence gained through any combination of education, training and experience. An understanding of or experience in historical research will be highly regarded.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, with a high level of attention to detail. Some experience in publishing or editing assistance will be highly regarded.
  • Sound stakeholder management skills, with the ability to liaise effectively.
  • Proficiency in the MS Office suite and experience working across a range of computer systems and applications including Zoom, Eventbrite, WordPress and Zotero.
  • Proficient time and workload management skills, with a demonstrated ability to respond to changing priorities, manage multiple tasks and meet competing deadlines by using judgement and initiative.
  • Project experience, including in budget administration and analysis. An understanding of the project life cycle and development of project plans, objectives and documentation.
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and productively within a team, but also to take initiative and work independently while managing competing demands.
  • An understanding of and commitment to UNSW’s aims, objectives and values in action, together with relevant policies and guidelines.
  • Knowledge of health and safety responsibilities and commitment to attending relevant health and safety training.

Apply now.

Dr Jarrod Hore, Interim Manager, Laureate Centre for Population & History

Dan David Foundation logo. A cream-coloured square with the words 'Dan David Foundation'.

Laureate Centre Director Prof. Alison Bashford is awarded Dan David Prize

Laureate Centre for History & Population Director Professor Alison Bashford has been recognised for her wide-ranging work on public health, medicine, disease control, borders, and quarantine. She is one of seven Laureates for 2021. She joins pre-eminent academics Professor Katharine Park (Harvard University) and Professor Keith Wailoo (Princeton University) in the History of Health and Medicine (Past) category.

Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has received the Public Health (Present) prize, and pioneers of an anti-cancer immunotherapy Professor Zelig Eshhar (Weizmann Institute of Science and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center), Professor Carl June (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr Steven Rosenberg (National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland) are named laureates in the Molecular Medicine (Future) category.

“I never imagined that historical work I pursued decades ago on the global management of infectious disease would be playing out before us with such force,” Professor Bashford said. “I always thought that quarantine, isolation, masks and ‘plague ships’ would remain part of our collective past, not our global present. But this is all a reminder of how history is part of our present, in all matters.

“I’m grateful that the Dan David Board recognises, each year, the significance of analysis of the human past, and honoured to be this year’s Laureate.”

The internationally renowned Dan David Prize, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, annually awards three prizes of $US1 million each to globally inspiring individuals and organisations, honouring outstanding contributions that expand knowledge of the past, enrich society in the present, and promise to improve the future of our world. The total purse of $US3 million makes this prestigious prize also one of the highest valued awards internationally.

The citation in full:

Prof. Alison Bashford has contributed immensely to the history of medicine and science by connecting it with global history and environmental history into new assessments of the modern world, from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

Laureate Professor of History at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and Director of the Laureate Centre for History & Population, and Honorary Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge, Bashford’s work is unusually expansive across geographies, topics, and periods.

She has led global discussion about the history of health and medicine in four major areas: quarantine and medico-legal border control; population and eugenics; the links between colonial and world health; and gender and health as a key driver of modern world history. In all these areas, Bashford’s books, articles and public discussion offer large-scale and integrated analyses of how the twenty first century world came to be.

Her longstanding historical work on quarantine and infectious disease has been a major resource in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Bashford brings together scholars from across the world, and across many disciplines, to consider how the past and present fold together. When biosecurity threats of SARS, anthrax, and avian influenza suddenly amplified political insecurity in the early 2000s, she convened leading thinkers quickly, producing a trio of books that have deepened our understanding of that complex global moment, unexpectedly renewed with the emergence of Covid-19.

Throughout her work on eugenics, Bashford has eschewed an obvious exposé history. She has been far more driven to understand how and why it flourished amongst progressivists, modernists, and reformers, and how, counter-intuitively, some anti-racists and anti-colonials also pursued eugenics. Perhaps her most original contribution has been to analyze eugenics within twentieth-century conceptions of “freedom” and “duty,” along with coercion and force. Her work has linked the practice of eugenics to the emergence of a global liberal and neo-liberal order, as much as to the history of fascism to which it is typically connected.

Food Security

Food and Freedom: A New World of Plenty?

In 1943, agriculturalists, economists, physicians, and international policy-makers met in Hot Springs, Virginia, a gathering that pre-empted what was to become the first agency of the new United Nations: the Food and Agriculture Organisation. The sinister backdrop was devastating famine in Bengal, in parts of China, and millions hungry in the USSR. A world food crisis was declared, and food and population were immediately linked in grand plans for the postwar era. This manifested as national politics as much as international politics over the turbulent late 1940s.

As the British withdrew from the subcontinent, independent governments in India, Pakistan, and Ceylon put food, population, and agricultural reform at the center of economic and political planning. In civil war China, “Anti-Hunger” became one political rallying point. In Japan, the occupying US forces as well as the new Japanese government puzzled over demographic projections for the country in relation to food production: was a transition to low birth rates and low mortality rates already taking place? And if so, how much food would be needed?

Land, Men and Food: Density in the Cold War. From Kingsley Davis, ‘People and Agriculture’ in Kingsley Davis and Julius Isaac, People on the Move (London: Bureau of Current Affair, 1950). The author of demographic transition was at least as interested in density as fertility rates.

As the World War turned into the Cold War, Europe too was gripped by a postwar food crisis, its solution seen by many to be the core imperative of political and social recovery. John Boyd Orr, Director-General of the new FAO, wrote about his experiences in Prague, Autumn 1946. He reported bad harvests reducing diet to starvation levels, hunger and discontent contributing to the downfall of the government. Meanwhile, the Greek government had just requested the FAO to assist in reconstruction and development, specifically to address the “impoverishment of land” where forests, it was claimed, had been reduced from 60 per cent to 5 per cent of the total area. Like many others, Boyd Orr was watching communist and anti-communist dynamics in Europe very carefully indeed. This was part of his new brief, not least since US initiatives for food aid were quickly escalating with the Marshall Plan, later extending into its Food for Peace program.

Food policy increasingly accompanied US bids for simultaneous world peace and global domination, key to its pursuit of a stable non-communist world future. Actual famine, and fear of the political ramifications of threatened famine, drove vast amounts of research, laboratory, and field development of agricultural sciences. New high-yielding varieties of wheat, maize, and rice, irrigation systems, pesticides, and herbicides became the “green revolution,” a descriptor first used in 1968, but nominating technological developments in place from the 1940s. In Mexico, India, the Philippines and beyond, investments by national governments, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, and the new World Bank manifested as a doubling of cereal production.

“What could be produced from the earth, and was it enough?”

For the hungry, this was about food, while for statesmen it was about food security, the political stability that food both brought and bought. For ecologists and Malthusians, it was unsustainable. Behind the food problem and its accompanying anti-communist politics, was major discussion about global resources and energy needs. What could be produced from the earth, and was it enough?

Food and hunger were also rendered global problems by those whose politics was opposed to the US-led anti-Communism, and in ways that recognized a recent colonial and anti-colonial past as much as the communist and anti-communist present. In other words, while global food, hunger, and population were key elements in the discourse of anti-communism, they were key elements also to postwar anti-colonialism. Brazilian doctor, anti-Malthusian, and sometime chair of the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Executive Council, Josué de Castro argued that the “geography of hunger” matched the global geography of colonial rule.

Yet concern over a lingering colonial geopolitics of hunger was not aligned solely with de Castro-style opposition to Malthusianism. Demographer Sripati Chandrasekhar agreed that “the world’s great areas of endemic hunger are exactly the colonial areas.” Deeply driven by Malthusian conviction, this was also part of his postcolonial critique: “The myth of Western military and social invulnerability has been exploded and the day of Western domination is over.” Thus the geopolitics of a “free world,” a communist world, and a “Third World” that did not have enough to eat, emerged not just as a US-led neo-colonialism but also as a critical geography of the global north and south. The capacity to achieve “freedom from hunger” was related to global calculations of food production, consumption, and distribution, but also more surprisingly it was tied to calls for “freedom to move,” rehearsing interwar conversations for the next new world.

Excerpt from Alison Bashford, Global Population (Columbia University Press, 2016), chapter 10.

We’re Recruiting

Applications have recently closed for Postdoctoral Fellows. We’ll be in touch with candidates as soon as possible.

In July 2021 we will appoint 3 Laureate Postdoctoral Fellows to undertake independent and collaborative research on aspects of the modern (post 1800) history of population policy; the intellectual history of population and political economy; and/or the international history of population debate, including environmental history dimensions. Preference may be given to historians or historical geographers of India, China or Japan, or of the United Nations’ engagement with population matters.

The Laureate Centre for History & Population is a 5-year Australian Research Council-funded research centre directed by Professor Alison Bashford. Working with Professor Bashford, Laureate Postdoctoral Fellows will contribute to a reassessment of modern world history by centrally analysing population change and population policy, at national, regional and international levels within a ‘multiple modernities’ framework, and by analysing Malthusian theories, their uptake, translation and critique, across a range of modern polities. Environmental, economic, and intellectual historians, as well as historians of gender and health are invited to apply.

The Centre’s research program is structured around four intellectual strands: Bio, Geo, Eco, Cosmo.

Applications have recently closed.

Postdoctoral appointments are for three years, commencing July 1 2021 or soon thereafter.

About the role

  • $96K – $104K plus 17% Superannuation and annual leave loading
  • Fixed Term – 3 years
  • Full time (35 hours)
  • There are x3 positions available

Specific responsibilities for this role include:

  • Contribute independently and as a team member to historical research on population in a modern world history context
  • Present and publish academic papers for international journals, and conduct research towards an independently authored monograph
  • Design and manage intellectual strands within the Laureate Program, including research activities with international collaborators
  • Assist with the coordination of research activities and actively contribute to research outputs to meet project milestones.
  • Assist in occasional lecturing and tutoring to undergraduate or postgraduate students, according to area of expertise
  • Participation in international conferences and/or workshops relevant to the project as required
  • Participate in regular program meetings and undertake other research and administration activities as required.
  • Align with and actively demonstrate the UNSW Values in Action: Our Behaviours and the UNSW Code of Conduct.
  • Cooperate with all health and safety policies and procedures of the university and take all reasonable care to ensure that your actions or omissions do not impact on the health and safety of yourself or others.

About the successful applicant (Selection Criteria)

To be successful in this role you will have:

Level A:

  • PhD in the history of modern gender, environmental, economic or intellectual history of population.
  • Preference may be given to historians of East Asia or South Asia or of the United Nations.
  • Preference may be given to historians of 20th century world history, although historians with expertise in earlier periods may apply
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct independent research with limited supervision
  • Demonstrated track record of high-quality research outputs, publications and conference presentations relative to opportunity, with potential for agenda-setting contributions
  • Potential to initiate and drive scholarly meetings, panels, symposia and conferences
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team, collaborate across disciplines and build effective relationships.
  • Strong interpersonal skills with demonstrated ability to communicate and interact with a diverse range of stakeholders
  • An understanding of and commitment to UNSW’s aims, objectives and values in action, together with relevant policies and guidelines.
  • Knowledge of health and safety responsibilities and commitment to attending relevant health and safety training

For Level B appointment, in addition to the above:

  • A monograph related to population history published with a scholarly press; or manuscript already delivered to a press
  • A prior postdoctoral appointment partially or fully completed

For further information on the Laureate Centre for History & Population, please contact Professor Bashford,  

In addition to cover letter addressing selection criteria, please include 3-5 page proposal for a 3-year independent research project and one sample chapter or article, published or unpublished.

For informal queries, please see the below contact details. 

Dr Jarrod Hore, Interim Manager, Laureate Centre for Population & History

Launch: 1 July 2021

The Laureate Centre for History & Population will launch in July 2021. Researchers based at the centre will pursue a distinctively regional perspective on how population policies emerged over the 19th and 20th centuries, and what their present legacies are, especially in a climate-changed world.

Applying a ‘multiple modernities’ approach, we will compare Australia, Japan, India and China, analysing highly diverse polities and challenging Europe-outward theses on modernisation and development. 

The aims are: 

To deepen our knowledge of how different population policies were foundational to modern statecraft over the twentieth century

To reassess modern world history by centrally analysing population change and population policy, at national, regional and international levels

To understand how Asia-Pacific population policies informed United Nations’ engagement with population issues, from 1945 to Sustainable Development Goals

To recalibrate our understanding of the political economy canon, through the first dedicated analysis of: a) population and comparative gender analysis; and b) classical political economy on Asia and the Pacific, including T.R. Malthus’s foundational writing, especially on South Asia and East Asia

To analyse the reception and trajectories of Malthusian and Anti-Malthusian thought by Asia-Pacific political leaders as well as thought leaders

To test and substantiate the ‘multiple modernities’ thesis, by analysing population thought and policy in highly distinct polities in the Asia Pacific region.