Meet the author - Lea Ypi

Listen to the recording of Lea Ypi was in conversation with the Allan Behm on her award-winning book Free, on the Experience ANU SoundCloud channel.

Lea Ypi will be in conversation with the Allan Behm on her award-winning bookFree. Coming of Age at the End of History, exploring the meaning of freedom - personal, collective, political - from an extraordinary new voice.

Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated countries on earth, a place where communist ideals had officially replaced religion. Albania, the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, was almost impossible to visit, almost impossible to leave. It was a place of queuing and scarcity, of political executions and secret police. To Lea, it was home. People were equal, neighbours helped each other, and children were expected to build a better world. There was community and hope.

Then, in December 1990 everything changed. The statues of Stalin and Hoxha were toppled. Almost overnight, people could vote freely, wear what they liked and worship as they wished. There was no longer anything to fear from prying ears. But factories shut, jobs disappeared and thousands fled to Italy on crowded ships, only to be sent back. Predatory pyramid schemes eventually bankrupted the country, leading to violent conflict. As one generation's aspirations became another's disillusionment, and as her own family's secrets were revealed, Lea found herself questioning what freedom really meant.

Free is an engrossing memoir of coming of age amid political and social upheaval in which Lea Ypi delivers a thoughtful fresh, and invigorating perspective on the relation between the personal and the political, and on deep questions about freedom: What does freedom consist of, and for whom? What conditions foster it? Who among us is truly free?

'A remarkable story, stunningly told' . The Times

Free was the Winner of the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Award and was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. It was Named a 2022 Best Book of the Year by the New Yorker, Washington Post, Financial Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Foreign Affairs, Public Books, and Sunday Times

Lea Ypi is Professor in Political Theory in the Government Department, London School of Economics, and Honorary Professor in Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences, ANU. Before joining the LSE, she was a Post-doctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College (Oxford) and a researcher at the European University Institute where she obtained her PhD. In 2022, she was named by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as one of the most important culture personalities of 2022 and by the British magazine Prospect as one of the world's top ten thinkers.

Allan Behm is Director, International & Security Affairs Program at the Australia Institute. Following a career spanning nearly 30 years in the Australian Public Service, he was Chief of Staff to Minister for Climate Change and Industry Greg Combet (2009- 2013) and senior advisor to the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Penny Wong (2017-19). His publications include No, Minister and No Enemies No Friends.

The vote of thanks will be given by Kim Rubenstein, Professor in the Faculty of Business Government and Law at the University of Canberra.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.


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A podcast will be made available after the event.

Symposium by University House Wine bar (Shop 13, 152 University Avenue, Acton, which is just next to the Kambri cultural centre) will now be open for dining after meet the author events. Food and wine details at . No bookings necessary.


TEQSA Provider ID: PRV12002 (Australian University) | CRICOS Provider Code: 00120C

Date and Times


Room: T2