Power of the humanities

Explore stories about the social benefits and impact of the Humanities and the remarkable outcomes that can be achieved when humanities researchers collaborate on national and global challenges. Visit our Newsroom to explore stories about our people, community and research.

In 2023, we have mostly emerged from the extremes of isolation, but the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on academia have converged with our looming environmental catastrophe. President of the Academy of Humanities Lesley Head FASSA FAHA reminds us that humanities scholars have the unique tools to address the challenges the world is throwing our way.

Art can communicate across time and space. It transcends life and death. Professor Ari Heinrich FAHA explains how this power is harnessed in an exhibition inspired by a Taiwanese author and created by a Chinese-Australian artist.

A presentist might assume that audiobooks are a modern invention. They would be wrong. Long before the digital world, literature was being shared orally. Martyn Lyons FAHA takes us back through the centuries to reveal how those who couldn’t read or write maintained a literary culture.

ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Peter Veth FAHA MAACAI, takes us on a journey from the Ningaloo Coast through the Pilbara and into the Western Desert where innovative science and Indigenous knowledge are helping develop new understandings of the 60,000-year custodianship of Australian deserts.

The Colonial Frontier Massacres in Australia, 1788-1930, led by Professor Lyndall Ryan AM, FAHA is a truth-telling project that draws on the new research field of massacre studies and digital technology to map verified frontier massacres in Australia between 1788 when British colonisation began until 1930. Professor Ryan explains how the map settles debates about how the British colonisation of Australia affected Indigenous people.

Historian and author, Alison Bashford, FAHA, FBA draws from her latest book An Intimate History of Evolution: the Story of the Huxley Family to explore a world (not so long ago) when it was unremarkable for scientists to also be poets; when a leading English evolutionary biologist was as learned in German philosophy as the new German experiments on a thing called ‘the cell’?

Fellow and Professor of Ukrainian Studies Marko Pavlyshyn examines the evolution of Ukraine’s national self identity from the nineteenth century to the present day. This article is based on his paper at the 53rd Annual Academy Symposium: “Complexities of Belonging: Reflections on Citizenship and Identity in Ukraine”.

Professor Emeritus Julianne Schultz AM FAHA explores the idea of Australia as a nation and argues, if the idea of Australia is not to be a half-formed thing, we must respond to the call of history to give the First Australians the recognition they have long sought.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.