Funds for Italian aliens and the Sino-Indian war research

Media release: Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The National Archives of Australia and the Australian Historical Association (AHA) have awarded two new scholarships to support postgraduate archival research into unexplored aspects of Australia's history.

The latest winners of the twice-yearly joint scholarships are PhD candidates Mia Spizzica from Monash University in Melbourne and Reed Chervin from the University of Hong Kong.

Mia Spizzica's project explores the experiences of pre-war Italian migrants who were affected by Australia's wartime internment policies during World War II.

'The lives of ordinary Italian migrants living in Australia – and Italian diaspora communities in many other areas – were changed forever when Fascist Italy declared war on Britain and France in June 1940,' she said. 'Almost 5,000 Italian men, women and children were interned in Australia as enemy aliens from 1940, with some detained until 1946.

'The vast majority were later found to have no links to Italian politics but were still considered the enemy because of their origins. A vital part of my research is the use of thousands of primary documents from the National Archives to develop and corroborate the eyewitness narratives.' Reed Chervin's project looks at the 1962 Sino-Indian war and its far-reaching effects on Cold War alliances and rivalries.

'The topic remains relevant today since the border between the two countries has yet to be mutually agreed,' he said. 'My work also demonstrates how the 1962 war continues to affect perceptions of China and India.

'I plan to dedicate a chapter to Australia's political and economic policies toward China and India before, during and after this conflict. Importantly, Australian archival materials will allow me to relate the regional 1962 war to global developments.'

The scholarships, at $650 each, enable researchers with the cost of digitising records held in the National Archives' various locations, when the cost of travel may be prohibitive.

'For example, scholars based in one city or another country often need to explore archival records located elsewhere,' said Louise Doyle, Assistant Director-General, National Archives of Australia. 'These projects will add significantly to our knowledge of Australia and our relationships with the world.'

Joint partner, the Australian Historical Association is also committed to supporting access to archival resources that enable further post-graduate research into Australian history.

The scholarships provide direct, tangible assistance to postgraduate research', said Professor Angela Woollacott, President of the AHA. 'These two projects will illuminate, in different ways, Australia's entanglement in global affairs in the turbulent decades of World War II and the Cold War.'

Contact information

  • Elizabeth Masters (Media Officer)
    t (02) 6212 3957 m 0417 247 157 e elizabeth.masters@naa.gov.au
  • Professor Tim Rowse (Australian Historical Association)
    t 02 9772 6543 e T.Rowse@uws.edu.au

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