Professor Alison Bashford Receives the Royal Society of New South Wales, History and Philosophy of Science Medal

Professor Alison Bashford, Laureate Centre Director, was awarded the Royal Society of New South Wales History and Philosophy of Science Medal from the Governor, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley.

At a ceremony at Government House on 23 February 2022, Alison Bashford’s research and leadership in the history of science was recognised. The History and Philosophy of Science Medal is awarded annually by the Royal Society of New South Wales.

Professor Bashford recently delivered the Society’s Annual Lecture on The Huxleys, including their connection with Sydney and Australia. This forms part of her forthcoming book, An Intimate History of Evolution: The Huxleys in Nature and Culture (Allen Lane).


Professor Alison Bashford Receives the Royal Society of New South Wales, History and Philosophy of Science Medal

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!  

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.

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.