National Conference

ISAA 2022 National Conference

ISAA 2022 National Conference

National Library of Australia, Thursday 22 – Friday 23 September 2022

Conference Theme: Crossing Boundaries

One of the things that makes ISAA standout as an organisation is that its membership is made of scholars from a wide variety of fields in the arts, humanities and sciences. ISAA members are aware that there is both interest and value in crossing over the boundaries of the disciplines.

As early as 1959 C P Snow (scientist and novelist) gave the Rede Lecture on ‘The Two Cultures’, and published in book form as The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution the same year. Snow maintained that science and the humanities which represented “the intellectual life of the whole of western society” had become split into ‘two cultures’ and that this division was a major handicap to both. 

This Conference , our first physical conference since 2019, offers a variety of ‘boundaries’ and a variety of ways of crossing them.



ISAA Conference Program.pdf
File size 323.36 kB


The ISAA National Conference 2020, with the theme of No Place like Home, was postponed owing to COVID 19. The 2021 Conference is scheduled to go ahead on  23-24 September 2021, with the same theme.



The Proceedings of both the 2014 and 2015 ISAA National Conference are now available on the ISAA website. 

ISAA has taken all reasonable steps to contact the authors of the papers that were published in the 2014 and 2015 ISAA Conference Proceedings to seek their permission to publish their papers on the ISAA website.  

The authors retain copyright to these papers.



The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: converage in Trove's digitised collections, paper given by CATRIONA BRYCE, Trove Outreach Officer.



ISAA Conference 2018 

The Declaration of Human Rights – 70 Years On

National Library 11-12 October

This year’s conference will have as its theme The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - 70 Years On.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its 70thanniversary this year. Australia played a significant role in drafting this document, especially through the efforts of Dr. Herbert Vere Evatt. Robertson (2008) argues that ‘Australia’s greatest achievement was to ensure in the declaration the inclusion of social and economic rights’. Since 1948 the international human rights system has matured substantially, producing a raft of conventions and protocols to protect specific types of rights and giving rise to regional human rights regimes in Africa and Europe for example. These systems entrench respect for ‘the sovereignty of each person’ (Fleiner 1999) and are a major product of Enlightenment thinking. However, this has led to the criticism that the Declaration and instruments flowing from it are based in individualistic Western culture. 

Despite all the achievements that have flowed on from the Declaration, there have been many pressures against implementing some of these rights even where a country has signed the relevant conventions. These pressures include the break-up of the bi-polar international power blocs; the rise of civil wars which have led to disrespect of human rights, frequently based on individuals’ group identities; and a large increase in involuntary population movements. For example, Australia has implemented policies aimed at stemming the flow of ‘illegal immigrants’/asylum seekers which are arguably in breach of both the Refugee Convention and the Torture Convention. Australia is also criticised for its Intervention policy for Indigenous peoples in the Northern Territory (Northern Territory National Emergency Response).

Papers dealing with factors leading up to the Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent  human rights developments that have followed from it are welcome.

N.B. Submissions are not accepted from the same person two years in a row unless they are extremely pertinent to the conference theme.



National Library 12-13 October

Revolution, Activism and Social Change

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.  Fidel Castro, a key agent of the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s, has died and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, promising to transform the US government and economy.

There was a wave of democratic revolutions over the last 60 years, including the Hungarian uprising in 1956, movements starting in the mid-1970s that brought down dictatorships across the world, for example the expulsion of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 in the Philippines, and the end of apartheid in South Africa in the early 1990s.

The Independent Scholars Association of Australia, (ISAA), has taken the theme Revolution, Activism and Social Change for its 2017 Annual Conference.

President of ISAA, Christine Yeats said: “Major social change comes from many sources and individual activists may play a central role. ISAA is delighted that members have responded so well to the theme.  Papers cover a wide range of topics, including the role of women in changing society, and the German November Revolution of 1848.”

The Annual Lecture is always a highlight of the Conference, and this year The Legacy of the Russian Revolution, will be delivered by Dr David Christian, Director of Big History Institute and Distinguished Professor in History, Department of Modern History at Macquarie University, Sydney.

A special panel discussion commemorating the life and work of Emeritus Professor John Mulvaney AO CMG, a long-standing member of ISAA, will be led by Dr David Headon. Titled A Life Well-lived: the Legacy of John Mulvaney, will examine various aspects of Professor Mulvaney’s activism over his long life, including his major contribution to Australian archaeology.


The ISAA Conference will be held at the National Library of Australia.

WHAT: The 2017 ISAA National Conference – Revolution, Activism and Social Change

WHEN: Thursday October 12 and Friday 13, October 2017

WHERE: The National Library of Australia, Canberra ACT

INFORMATION: Meredith Hinchliffe, ISAA, Mob: 0412 186 646, email

ISAA Website:

David Christian, Director of Big History Institute and Distinguished Professor in History, Department of Modern History, Macquarie University, Sydney

will present the ISAA Annual Lecture on 

Thursday 12 October  5.30 – 6.30 pm at the National Library of Australia

on the theme of: ‘The Russian Revolution in World History’

'The Legacy of the Russian Revolution': The project of building a better world has always been with us, and still is today.  The Russian Revolution represents one of the most determined attempts ever to build a better and more equal world, in which most members of society could flourish.  It clearly failed, and analysing the reasons for its failures is immensely important if we are to face the same question squarely a century later.  Once again, issues of inequality loom large.  But today, we have to deal with the new understanding that our biosphere sets limits to the amount of energy and resources we humans can consume.  So, one of the most important legacies of the Russian Revolution is a question: can we build a better world, in which most people live flourishing lives, and can we do so without undermining the ecological foundations for such a world?

CV: David Christian (D.Phil. Oxford, 1974) is by training a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, but since the 1980s he has become interested in World History on very large scales, or ‘Big History’. He taught at Macquarie University in Sydney from 1975 to 2000 before taking a position at San Diego State University in 2001. In January 2009 he returned to Macquarie University.  From 2009 to 2013 he was a ‘World Class Universities Distinguished Professor’ at Ewha Womans University in Seoul; and over the same period, he has also held a position as a James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont.  He was founding President of the International Big History Association, and is co-founder with Bill Gates, of the Big History Project, which has built a free on-line high school syllabus in big history.  He is the Director of Macquarie University’s Big History Institute, and designer and lead teacher on Macquarie University’s MOOC in Big History.