Australia’s insurgent intellectual

Yesterday we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Desmond Ball’s Special Professorship at the Australian National University in Canberra. It was a tremendous occasion, and one that I was proud to help organise.

Many New Mandala readers will likely be curious about the events and the book that was launched by Professor Robert O’Neill and ANU Chancellor (and former Australian Foreign Minister) Professor Gareth Evans.

The book, Insurgent Intellectual: Essays in honour of Professor Desmond Ball, published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies press in Singapore, includes chapters from former United States President Jimmy Carter, and former Australian government Ministers Alexander Downer and Kim Beazley. There are also chapters from leading scholars, journalists and retired officials reflecting on the diverse contributions that Des has made.

New Mandala readers will want to learn that there are two chapters that deal with aspects of Des’ research in mainland Southeast Asia. Over the years that work has occasionally featured on this site (such as here and here). These chapters, one by Mae Sot-based journalist Phil Thornton and one by me, were joined during yesterday’s workshop by eloquent statements on Southeast Asia themes from David Mathieson, Esther Sainsbury and John Blaxland. I anticipate that all of these spoken contributions will be online before too long.

In the meantime, for a further flavour of the day’s events you can read a speech by Professor Bob O’Neill, formerly the Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls, Oxford.

Also an interview I recently recorded with Des is available here.  And then readers who find that doesn’t quench their thirst may be interested in the edited transcript of another interview from last year.