Staff profile

Dr Roland Burke


College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce
Humanities and Social Sciences
Department of Archaeology and History

DMB E130, Melbourne (Bundoora)


BA (Hons-Melbourne, PhD (Melbourne).

Area of study


Brief profile

Roland joined the department in 2009, after extensive undergraduate teaching at the University of Melbourne. His doctoral thesis, completed in 2007, examined the role of the Third World in the evolution of the post-war human rights project.  It was awarded the Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence (2008). Roland was also the recipient of the R.M Crawford Medal from the Australian Academy of the Humanities (2010), and the La Trobe Excellence in Research Award for Early Career Researchers (2010). His recent research has been focused on transnational organizations and institutions, principally the UN and the Group of 77.

Research interests

Human rights and social justice and discrimination.

- Origins of human rights

Political Theory and Political Philosophy

- Twentieth-century guerrilla and national liberation movements

Post Colonial Studies

- Decolonization

Teaching units

  • HIS2/3ATF - Anarchists, Terrorists, and Freedom Fighters.
  • HIS2/3SAA - South Africa: Apartheid, Reconciliation, and Beyond.

Recent publications

Burke, R 2010, Decolonization and the Evolution of International Human Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania).


Burke, R 2010, ‘Afro-Asian Alignment: Charles Malik at Bandung’, in Antonia Finnane and Derek McDougall (eds.) Bandung 1955 (Melbourne: Monash University Press).


Burke, R, “From Individual Rights to National Development: The First UN International Conference on Human Rights, Tehran 1968.” Journal of World History 19: 3 (September 2008): 275-296.


Burke, R, ‘The Compelling Dialogue of Freedom: Human Rights at the 1955 Bandung Conference’. Human Rights Quarterly 28: 4 (November 2006): 947-965.


Co-authored with Barbara Keys, ‘Human Rights and the Cold War’, in Petra Goedde and Richard Immerman The Oxford Handbook on the Cold War (Oxford: OUP, accepted July 2009).


Research projects

Roland was awarded an ARC Discovery Grant and APD Fellowship in 2010, for a project that will examine the intellectual history of the arguments made against universal human rights.  His current research will study opposition to universality from the first objections to the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, to modern claims of cultural and civilizational particularity.  This work will include a diverse range of states and political movements, from the ideologues of the apartheid regime to the Leninist functionaries of the Brezhnev era.  It will chart the circulation of the ideas used to subvert and oppose the nascent international human rights order.

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