Engineering Internationalism: UNESCO’s Victory in Nubia

TOPIC  Engineering Internationalism: UNESCO’s Victory in Nubia

TIME AND VENUE: Wednesday 19 September, 12-1pm |

VENUE:  Sir Roland Wilson Building, Conference Room, 1.02

SPEAKER: Lynn Meskell is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University, and Honorary Professor in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.


“A great deal has been written about UNESCO’s Nubian Campaign, from the heroism and humanism promoted by the agency’s own vast propaganda machine, to the competing narratives of national saviors whether the French or Americans, to Nubia as a theatre for the Cold War, right down to individual accounts by technocrats, bureaucrats and archaeologists. It would seem therefore that there is little new to say. Yet if one recenters UNESCO’s originary utopian promise, coupled with its technocractic counterpart international assistance, then add the challenge of a ‘one world’ archaeology focused on the greatest civilization of the ancient world, there might be a new slant on a future in ruins.

What crystallized in UNESCO’s midcentury mission in Egypt was a material attempt to overcome the fissures that were already appearing in their postwar dream of a global peace. Portrayed as a vast international co-operation with unrivaled grandeur and romance, saving Nubia potentially relegated the crisis of Suez to history, manufactured much-needed harmony in the Middle East, demonstrated once and for all that culture could contribute to a Kantian perpetual peace and, acquisitively, it would recapture the materialities of civilization for the West. Humanity as a whole could claim its inheritance from Egypt, thus reinforcing UNESCO’s lofty ideals of world citizenship: a common humanity in the past paired with a common responsibility for the future. Being poised for futurity requires a certain mastery of the past, as Utopians had long realized. Despite having no initial plan to do so, this meant that UNESCO had to embrace large-scale and transnational archaeology, bringing archaeological research into a monumental project with a predominantly conservation agenda.

While only fleeting, and not entirely successful, this foray into field archaeology would mark both its apogee and demise at UNESCO and, in some respects, a wider intellectual landscape. Archaeology would soon become the handmaiden of heritage, subservient to the more calculable metrics of physical preservation and restoration, the global rise of conservation ethics and the marketable glamour of ancient monumentality. People too would be relegated by these grand designs, as thousands of Nubians were relocated with the rising waters. And this ever-increasing combination of infrastructural development, monumental preservation and the secondary status of people with their own living heritage would become the hallmark of the modern conservation industry.”

All welcome!

This presentation is supported by The Centre for Archaeological Research.

Mortality in Africa and elsewhere

ANU School of Demography Seminar

Date and Time: Tuesday 2 July 2019 – 11.30am – 12.30 pm

Location: Jean Martin Room, Beryl Rawson Bldg #13, Ellery Crescent, ANU

Presenter: Dr Sam Clark, Ohio State University

Title: A General Mortality Model & Moving Verbal Autopsy from Research to Routine Use

This seminar will have two parts. First, presentation of a formal mortality model, and second, discussion of efforts to rapidly improve information on cause of death where there are few data describing how people die.
High quality data describing all-age mortality are not available for many low and some middle-income countries, but almost all have good estimates of child mortality. I will present a general mortality model that uses child mortality to predict mortality at all ages in one-year age groups.
The distribution of deaths by cause and cause-specific mortality rates are fundamental to understanding and improving population health. About half of global deaths are unrecorded and a larger fraction do not have a meaningful cause assigned. I will discuss efforts to transform verbal autopsy from a bespoke research tool into a reliable method to assign cause of death in routine mortality surveillance at national scale in countries without well-functioning vital statistics systems.

Bio note
Sam Clark is a formal demographer who works on the demography and epidemiology of Africa and developing new methods for population sciences. Right now he is working on:
• Improving the ‘verbal autopsy’ method used to quantify the burden of disease for populations without full coverage vital statistics systems – work with colleagues at The Ohio State University, the University of Washington, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the CDC, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, the WHO, and the ‘Data for Health’ Initiative
• Mapping child mortality at the subnational level through time using household survey data in countries without full coverage vital statistics systems – work with colleagues at the University of Washington and UNICEF
• Developing new population indicator measurement strategies and statistical methods to implement them – work with colleagues at the University of Washington
Fertility and Mortality: variety of projects investigating levels and trends in fertility and mortality, mostly in Africa, and sometimes building models of age schedules of fertility and mortality that can be used widely as inputs to other analyses.

Gareth Evans on “The Responsibility to Protect in Africa”

On May 24, The Herbert and Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry partnered with The Humanities Research Centre to host ANU Chancellor and former Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon Gareth Evans, for the 2019 Africa Week lecture, on the topic “The Responsibility to Protect in Africa.”

Further details and photos are available on the Freilich Project website, and the full transcript of this lecture is available from Prof. Evan’s personal website.



Revised 13 May 2019

8 May, 2019, 6-8 pm,
Speaker: Prof Kwandiwe Kondlo, University of Johannesburg
Topic and Abstract The Myth + Reality of Nelson Mandela Venue.
Professor Kondlo followed this well- attended presentation with a discussion with the ANU African Studies Reading Group on May 9th about the South African elections.

10 May, 12.30 -2pm. Water in Africa—Transnational and Interdisciplinary Approaches (Wissing, Aderinan, Abraham). One of the highlights of this talk was a slide showing the scary shrinkage of Lake Chad


16 May. 4-5.30 p.m. Dr Beyongo Mukete Dynamic, ‘Regulating Chinese Investments in Africa’ (at the at the China in the World Centre)

16 May. 4-5pm. Banks Tea Room, Ground Floor, School of Archaeology and Anthropology. A 28 minute Screening of ‘Laamba’ a film about Senegalese wrestling preceded by a short introduction by Paul Hayes (

May. Africa Week Panel Discussion. ‘Africa is the future’. Contributions by diplomats and ANU students. POSTPONED Updates will be on

24 May. Chancellor Gareth Evans, ‘The right to protect’ in Africa’. 5-7.30 pm, Sir Rowland Wilson Building

30 May Dr Bonnie McConnell on African music (To be confirmed, see )

Senegalese Wrestling film


‘This film is the story of a 22 year old cattle herder and his
attempts to become a pro wrestler in Senegal. It’s a modern tale about fighting ones way out ofpoverty, and it’s the story of a sport filled with myths and voodoo rituals. Film Length: 28 minutes.
The film will be preceded by a brief introduction to the anthropology of wrestling by Paul Hayes,who recently completed fieldwork among the lesser-known Nuba wrestlers of Khartoum, Sudan.’

Paul is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology, The Australian National University.and Visiting Scholar/Associate Researcher, Centre for Social and Economic Research (CEDEJ), Khartoum.

Contacts ANU Anthropological Film Series Convenors:

Date and Time: Thursday 16 May, 4-5 pm

Venue: Banks Tea Room
Ground Floor
School of Archaeology & Anthropology, ANU

May Events at ANU

Date and Time; 8 May, 2019, 6-8 pm,

Speaker: Prof Kwandiwe Kondlo University of Johannesburg

Topic and Abstract The Myth + Reality of Nelson MandelaVenue: Theatrette, Sir Rowland Wilson Building (SRWB) 120 McCoy Circuit, ANU

Registration and more details:

OTHER MAY EVENTS mostly at the SRWB (watch this blog  for more details)

10 May Water in Africa (Wissing, Aderinan, Abraham)

16 May Dr Beyongo Dynamic, ‘Regulating Chinese Investments in Africa’ (at the at the China in the World Centre)

21 Africa Week Panel Discussion. ‘Africa is the future’

24 May Vice-chancellor Gareth Evans, ‘The right to protect’ in Africa

30 May Dr Bonnie McConnell on African drumming (topic to be confirmed)


The Myth + Reality of Nelson Mandela

Speaker: Prof Kwandiwe Kondlo, Professor, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg.

Venue: Theatrette, Sir Rowland Wilson Building
120 McCoy Circuit, ANU

Date and Time; 8 May, 2019, 6-8 pm. The lecture will last about one hour and will be followed by light refreshments.


Topic and Abstract The Myth + Reality of Nelson Mandela

The lecture seeks to debate Nelson Mandela’s place in public memory. It will deal with several questions about the myths surrounding Mandela. These include, for instance, was Mandela a towering symbol of hope or was he a sell-out? Mandela, the ‘reluctant’ prince from the Tembu royal family; Mandela, the ‘black pimpernel’ operating from the ANC underground network before he was arrested, Mandela the ‘look alike’ of the ‘real’ Mandela ‘who died in Robben Island long ago’- these are aspects the lecture will cover to debate the mythical aspects of Nelson Mandela. The reality of Mandela as a genuine leader of the struggle for freedom in South Africa; a pioneer of South Africa’s nation building project based on values of non-racialism, non-sexism and inclusivity, will also be explored.

For enquiries please contact:

E T 02 6125 2434

Sisonke Msimang on Winnie Mandela

In Conversation with Sisonke Msimang

Date and  times: Mon 15 Apr 2019, 6–7pm

Venue China in the World Auditorium, Fellows Lane, ANU


‘Sisonke Msimang will be in coversation with Chris Wallace, speaking about her powerful and challenging new book, The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela, which charts the rise and fall-and rise, again-of one of South Africa’s most controversial and influential political figures, the wife of one of the most famous activists of all time. Msimang situates “Ma Winnie’s”  political career and legacy in the contemporary context, what she means today in social and political terms, by exploring different aspects of her iconic persona.
‘Ma Winnie’ fought apartheid with uncommon ferocity, but her implication in kidnapping, torture and killing would later see her shunned. In analysing Winnie Madikizela- Mandela, Msimang asks what it means to reclaim this powerful woman as an icon while honouring apartheid’s victims-those who were collateral damage and whose stories have yet to be told .Msimang shows us that activism matters, and that the meaning of women’s lives can be reclaimed.
The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela is “a primer for young feminists and those interested in the politics of memory, reconciliation and justice.”Reading List South Africa.
It is rare to hear from such a voice as Sisonke’s-powerful, accomplished, unabashed and brave.’-Alice Pung on Sisonke’s bestselling memoir Always Another Country.
Sisonke Msimang was born and raised in Zambia, Kenya and Canada before studying in the US as an undergraduate. Her family returned to South Africa after apartheid was abolished in the early 1990s. Sisonke has held fellowships at Yale University, the Aspen Institute and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Newsweek and the New York Times. Her TED lecture on storytelling has been viewed over 1 million times.
Dr Chris Wallace is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow at the National Centre of Biography, School of History, ANU and formerly a longstanding member of the Canberra Press Gallery. She is the author of several books including Germaine Greer, Untamed Shrew.
Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm and again after the event. This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop and books will be available to purchase.’