2017 Narratives of War Symposium/MHSA Conference

17-19 November
University of South Australia
City West Campus

Anzac Centenary Walk


This year,  the Narratives of War Symposium has been joined by a like-minded organisation, the South Australian branch of the Military History Society of Australia (MHSA), to present an expanded, more wide-ranging conference to produce three days of stimulating presentations and discussion around the conference theme, Generations of War.

Each new generation experiences conflict – and especially  war – in a new and different context. The technological aspects of today’s conflicts, for example, require knowledge and skills that wold have been unthinkable in the Great War. Yet some things are common to all wars – people die, science advances and acts noble and ignoble are produced. The Generations of War conference gives voice to narratives new and old and in so doing, we hope, adds to our understanding of the human condition.

The conference theme – Generations of War – is designed to encourage presentations on social, cultural and political change as it occurs locally, nationally and globally, as well as critical reflections on the power of social groupings in facilitating or resisting these directions.

The conference will be hosted by the University of South Australia, being held at its City West campus. As well as being a modern, accessible venue, it is home to the state’s second largest public art gallery, the Anne and Gordon Samstag Museum which features a world-class calendar of contemporary art exhibitions.

You can register for the Symposium here.

Keynote Speakers

Melanie Oppenheimer, PhD (Macquarie University), M. Litt (UNE), BA & Dip. Ed. (UNE)

'War Stories: From Global to Local'

1917 was the worst year for Australian casualties in our war history. The impact of the war more broadly on Australian servicemen and women, their families and Australian society was felt for decades afterwards. It created a lost generation and a permanently altered world. The conflicts and wars which Australia has been involved in since then reveal that each generation experiences war and suffering both differently and the same, especially those who survive and return home to civilian life. This has been the theme of many seminal novels and autobiographies from Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front to Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth. In this address, I take the symposium theme – Generations of War – and use a range of family narratives from different conflicts to seek out new voices and reveal hidden stories. I explore how family narratives and differing experiences of war help to shape us and our national histories, and provide us with a better understanding of the impact of war in this centenary year of the global conflict known as The Great War.

Melanie Oppenheimer

Professor Oppenheimer was appointed to the Chair of History at Flinders University in July 2013 . She previously held positions in Australian History at the University of Western Sydney and the University of New England. Melanie held the position of Dean of the School of History and International Relations for twelve months from July 2016. Her research interests include the role of voluntary organisations and patriotic funds in times of peace and war; the history of volunteering and voluntary action; and gender and imperialism. Her recent ARC funded projects focus on soldier settlement schemes post WWI; the 1970s Australian Assistance Plan; Meals on Wheels; and sustaining volunteering in Australia. Her recent books include a centenary history of Australian Red Cross, The Power of Humanity. 100 Years of Australian Red Cross (HarperCollins, 2014); The Last Battle: Soldier Settlement in Australia, 1916-1939 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) co-authored with Bruce Scates; and the edited volume (with Mandy Paul and Margaret Anderson) SA on the Eve of War (Wakefield Press, 2017). Melanie is a current member of the ARC College of Experts.

Professor Alexander C. McFarlane AO, MB. BS. (Hons) MD. Dip. Psychother. FRANZCP

'The Failure of Languages to Speak of Trauma'

Sandy McFarlane

Prof McFarlane is Professor of Psychiatry and the Head of the University of Adelaide Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies.   He is an international expert in the field of the impact of disasters and posttraumatic stress disorder. He is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies for

outstanding and fundamental contributions to the field of traumatic stress studies. He has held to roles of the Senior Adviser in Psychiatry to the Australian Defence Force, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  He is a retired Group Captain of the RAAF specialist reserve. Apart from his interest in disaster victims, military personnel and other civilian accidents, he has significant experience in the provision of care to emergency service personnel. His research is supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and NHMRC program and partnership grants. He has published over 350 articles and chapters in various refereed journals and has co-edited three books. In 2011 he received the Officer of the Order of Australia award which recognized his “outstanding contribution to medical research in the field of psychiatry, particularly posttraumatic stress disorders, to veterans’ mental health management, and as an author”.

View the Program here

Helen Meyer from Radio Adelaide talks to conference organisers:

Dr Nigel Starck                         Dr Sharon Mascall-Dare                         Dr Leanne Glenny

Symposium Image: The Anzac Centenary Memorial Walk supplied courtesy of Veterans SA. Photograph by Terry Cook, Pecan Lighting

CIL LogoMilitary Historical SocietyGovernment Logo

Areas of study and research

+ Click to minimise