Biography Workshop

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt published Red Professor (Wakefield Press) in 2015. A portrait of the life of the anthropologist, communist, and spy Fred Rose, the book draws on confidential files of ASIO and the Stasi, as well as the memories of those who knew him, to trace his beginnings in wartime Britain. Employed as a meteorologist on Groote Eylandt and then as a Canberra-based public servant, his anthropological field caused him to rethink the way Indigenous Australians should be understood, and their relationships with white Australia. His growing sympathy with Aboriginal people triggered and sustained Rose's second great passion, communism. In 1954, Rose was implicated as a Soviet spy in the Petrov Affair. Unable to distance himself from the sensational headlines and overwhelming suspicions, Rose and his family moved to East Germany where he attained a chair in anthropology at Humboldt University, while also serving as a Stasi operative.  Returning to Australia regularly to continue his fieldwork, he published a number of seminal texts, including The Wind of Change in Central Australia (1965). 

Peter Monteath was born in Brisbane and educated in Queensland and in Germany. He currently teaches modern European history at Flinders University. His research interests span modern European and Australian history, and he has a particular interest in how German history has intersected with Australia. He has published widely on prisoners of war, internment, and the German presence in Australia including, in 2011, his collection of essays Germans: Travellers, Settlers and Their Descendants in South Australia (Wakefield Press).