Professor Brij Vilash Lal AM
ANU Professor Brij Lal, PhD '81 was appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the 2015 Queen's Birthdays Honours List, for his significant service to education, the teaching of Pacific history and its preservation, for scholarship and for his tireless work as an author, researcher and commentator.
Professor Lal, currently Deputy Director, School of Culture, History and Language, The Australian National University, has had a distinguished career with ANU since 1990. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities (since 1996), and is a Founding Director of the Centre for the Contemporary Pacific. Professor Lal holds a Centenary medal from the Government of Australia for his contributions to humanities, as well as a Pacific Distinguished Scholar Medal (2005) and Distinguished Achievement Award (2014) from the International Association for the Study of Migration and Indenture. He is also an Officer of the Order of Fiji.
Professor Lal's career highlights includes being a member of the Fiji Constitution Review Commission whose report forms the basis of Fiji's constitution.
Professor Lal's book publications include: Pacific Places, Pacific Histories, University of Hawaii Press (2004); Pacific Islands: An Encyclopaedia (2000); and, Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century (1992).
His editor roles include, and have included: Founding Editor of The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs (Honolulu), Conversations (Canberra), ANU Press, the University of Queensland Press and the Journal of Pacific History.
Professor Lal is currently working on a large scale project about Australia's engagement with the South Pacific from the 1940s to the 1980s, focusing on the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu. His research on Fiji continues with a historical dictionary and a general interpretative volume for the University of Hawaii and a series of essays on the politics and culture of the Indian indentured diaspora. "...On the side, I continue to wrestle with the problems of writing about societies with unwritten pasts..." Professor Lal said.
Two of his latest publications include: 'World becomes Stranger, the Pattern More Complicated: Culture, Identity and the Indo-Fijian Experience' in Indian Diaspora: Socio-Cultural and Religious Worlds (2015); and, 'Sunrise on the Ganga', in An anthology of writings on the Ganga (Oxford University Press, 2015).
Born in the village of Tabia, on the island of Vanua Levu, Professor Lal received his tertiary education at the University of the South Pacific, the University of British Columbia and the Australian National University. Professor Lal's 1981 PhD thesis (ANU) Leaves of the Banyan tree: origins and background of Fiji's north Indian indentured migrants, 1879-1916, explored the complex and differentiated process of the Indian diaspora and labour emigration to Fiji.