ANU academics to lead top Australian studies institute

22 Jan 2021

Two academics from The Australian National University (ANU) have been named co-directors of a leading centre for the study of Australian society and culture, based in the United Kingdom.

Professor Martin Thomas and Dr Béatrice Bijon will take on the role at the Menzies Australia Institute at King's College London.

The theme for their co-directorship is 'Bearing Witness'. They will be curating a program of podcasts and events which explore how the testimony and responsibilities of the witness are both heightened and challenged by global events.

The podcast series will also provide a resource for the teaching and promotion of Australian Studies in a time of pandemic.

Professor Thomas and Dr Bijon have previously collaborated as producers of Etched in Bone, a documentary film shot in Arnhem Land about the repatriation of Indigenous human remains.

Dr Bijon, a senior lecturer in literary studies at ANU, said this new role was a "wonderful opportunity to advance the public engagement and research of the Menzies Australia Institute".

"2021 will bring the UK/Australia Season of Culture with exciting events in which the MAI will partner," she said.

Professor Thomas, a historian based at ANU since 2010, said he was "delighted" to be working alongside Dr Bijon and Advisory Board Chair, Elizabeth Ames.

"I'm delighted to be working alongside Béatrice and Elizabeth in London, as the first women to hold their respective roles since the Menzies was created in 1982," Dr Thomas said.

"We also warmly acknowledge the long service of our outgoing director Dr Ian Henderson and the recent contribution of Professor Sean Ewan in developing the King's College Indigenous Platform."

The co-director appointment results from a partnership agreement between King's College London and the Australian Studies Institute at ANU.