Jemma Purdey: From Vienna to Yogyakarta

Reviewed by
July–August 2011, no. 333

Jemma Purdey: From Vienna to Yogyakarta

Reviewed by
July–August 2011, no. 333

The lost Asian moment in Australian universities

Joan Grant

 

From Vienna to Yogyakarta: The Life of Herb Feith
by Jemma Purdey
UNSW Press, $69.95 pb, 576 pp, 9781742232805

 

Jamie Mackie’s recent death was a sad reminder of a time when enthusiasm for Asian studies mirrored the Australian government’s developing perception that the future lay in ‘our’ part of the world. The small cohort of academics who initiated these studies were genuine pioneers. For instance, Mackie, in the decades after 1958, became founding Head of Indonesian Studies at Melbourne University, founding Research Director of South-East Asian Studies at Monash University, and founding Professor of Political and Social Change in the Pacific and Asia at the Australian National University. Prior to World War II, there had been virtually no Asian studies in Australia. Now the field was wide open for those who were skilled and interested, and Herb Feith was among the earliest.

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