Learn about and listen to our 2019 events and podcasts

2019 Podcasts

Can Australia Defend Itself in the Asian Century?

For decades in Australia we have assumed that America will prevent any serious emerging military threats to Australia, or defend us from them if they do, but now America's power in Asia is waning and those old assumptions are no longer valid.

So what now? We have never really tried to defend ourselves independently, but now we may have no choice. Can it be done, and if so how? What do we really need to defend? What forces do we need? How much would they cost and how serious are the threats?

Professor Hugh White (Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University)
Dr Euan Graham (Executive Director of La Trobe Asia)

The Melbourne launch of How to Defend Australia by Hugh White, published by La Trobe University Press.

Recorded at the State Library of Victoria on 17 July, 2019.

Unmaking the Himalaya: Geopolitics, Environment, Citizenship

In recent years, the Indian and Chinese states have become increasingly assertive in the Himalaya. Driven in part by their mutual enmity and border disputes, both states have undertaken massive infrastructure developments, enabling vast new extractive projects, and a rush of troops and tourists from the plains to the mountains.

These political tensions have dangerous ecological consequences. All Himalayan states are building large dams to facilitate development. The Himalayan ice pack moderates monsoonal rains in Asia and feeds most of the region’s large rivers. This system provides 40 per cent of the world’s population with water. To make matters worse, the Himalaya is experiencing climate change at twice global averages.

With these political and environmental transformations, the lives of the region’s diverse peoples, including its refugee populations, along with broader ideas of citizenship and belonging, are being changed and challenged.

Associate Professor Sonika Gupta (IIT Madras)
Dr Ruth Gamble (David Myers Research Fellow, La Trobe University)
Dr Alexander Davis (New Generation Network Scholar, La Trobe University)
Dr Gerald Roche (Senior Research Fellow, Politics, La Trobe University)(Chair)

A La Trobe Asia event recorded on 26 June, 2019.

A Chinese Scholar on China

When talking about Chinese international politics, the loudest voices are often western ones, and the Chinese perspective is limited to official party lines.

In a rare interview, Professor Zhu Feng gives his thoughts on the US/China trade war, the South China Sea, China relations with Australia, and China's activity in the South Pacific.

Guest: Professor Zhu Feng (Executive Director, China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea, Nanjing University)

A Testing Friendship (Australia-China Relations #1)

For the most part, China has seen Australia as an especially agreeable and non-troubling partner, as a predictable American security ally but with a friendly twist. This is changing, and the pressure is intensifying for Australia to rebuild its standings with Beijing.

Find out more about the La Trobe Asia Brief on Australia-China relations.

Rowan Callick (Journalist, author, advisory board member of La Trobe Asia)

Is Chengdu the New Tibetan Capital?

Over the past decade the city of Chengdu, capital of the Sichuan province, has emerged as the most important Tibetan city in China. Various forms of financial, political, and symbolic capital have come together, converging in Chendgu, creating a centre for social mobilization around the production of Tibetanness.

Dr Gerald Roche (Senior Research Fellow, Department of Politics and Philosophy, La Trobe University).

The Collapse of Anuradhapura

The collapse of Anuradhapura marked the end of the lowland kingdoms in Sri Lanka's arid north, and the end of a distinctive and successful form of hydraulic low-density urban settlement.

Although historically understood as the result of Indian invasion, recent research at Anuradhapura has suggested the very economic system that enabled these kingdoms to flourish within a marginal environment, may have facilitated their collapse.

Dr Keir Strickland (Archaeology, La Trobe University)

The Untold Influence of the Malay Archipelago

Nusantaria – often referred to as 'Maritime Southeast Asia' – is the world's largest archipelago and has, for centuries, been a vital cultural and trading hub. These have long been primarily the domain of the Austronesian-speaking peoples and their seafaring traditions. The surrounding waters have always been uniquely important as a corridor connecting East Asia to India, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Philip Bowring (journalist and author)

'Empire of the Winds: The Global Role of Asia’s Great Archipelago' by Philip Bowring is published by Tauris.

A Grand Bargain between U.S. and China?

Can a grand bargain be reached between the United States and China? For the past 40 years the United States dominance of East Asia remained acknowledged and relatively uncontested, but now times have changed. China is a force to be reckoned with, and current American leadership can be seen as slightly ambivalent about challenging a change in the balance of power.

Professor Nick Bisley (Head of School, Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University).

Book: After American Primacy Imagining the Future of Australia’s Defence, published by Melbourne University Press.

Event: The State of Indonesia: A Post-Election Panel

On 17 April, Indonesians headed to the polls in one of the largest democratic elections in the world.

President Joko Widodo seems assured of a second term, with a quick count announcing a win by around 9-10 percentage points.

In this panel discussion, three Indonesia experts will analyse the outcome of the elections, examine what went right and what went wrong for the presidential candidates and political parties, and look at the road ahead for the elected president and Indonesia itself.

Professor Vedi Hadiz (Director and Professor of Asian Studies at the Asia Institute and an Assistant Deputy Vice-Chancellor International, University of Melbourne)
Dr Dirk Tomsa (Senior lecturer, Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy, La Trobe University)
Dr Jemma Purdey (Research Fellow, Australia Indonesia Centre, Monash University)

Dr Euan Graham (Executive Director, La Trobe Asia)

Presented at the La Trobe University City Campus on 1 May, 2019.

Podcast: The India-Pakistan Relationship

The India/Pakistan relationship has rarely been an easy one, with the two disagreeing on everything from territory, cricket, and who is the rightful owner of the Kohinoor diamond.

At times it spills into open conflict which can easily escalate, but who benefits from such a tense relationship, and should the world be concerned?

Professor Ian Hall (International Relations and Deputy Director (Research) of Griffith Asia Institute)

Podcast: Indonesia Votes 2019

Indonesians head to the polls on April 17 in one of the largest democratic elections in the world. Joko Widodo will once again face Prabowo Subianto, so how have the candidates changed in that time, and how is the election shaping up?

Dr Dirk Tomsa (Senior lecturer, Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy, La Trobe University) 
Dr Dina Afrianty (Research Fellow, La Trobe Law School)

Event: Does China Pose a Threat to Australia?

Almost no question is of greater significance for Australia’s future than the emergence of China as an economic and military great power. Does the rise of China pose a threat to the security of Australia? If so, a threat of what kind?

Professor Hugh White (Strategic Studies at the Australian National University)
Professor Clive Hamilton (Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University)

Dr Rebecca Strating (Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University)

Introduced by:
Professor John Dewar (Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University)

Presented in association with the Ideas and Society Program at the State Library of Victoria on 6th March, 2019.

Event: Why the 'Indo-Pacific'?

Once confined to academic foreign policy discussions, in recent years the term ‘Indo-Pacific’ has gained widespread political and public acceptance.

What is behind the rise in prominence of this term? What actors are pushing it? Does it have a clear and agreed upon meaning? Has it replaced the ‘Asia-Pacific’ and, if so, why?

Professor Nick Bisley (Head of Humanities and Social Sciences, La TrobeUniversity)
Dr Priya Chacko (Politics and International Studies, University of Adelaide)
Abhijit Singh (former Indian naval officer and Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation)

Moderator: Dr Alexander Davis (‘New Generation Network’ postdoctoral research fellow with the Australia India Institute and La Trobe University).

Held in Partnership with the Australia India Institiute at the Sidney Myer Asia Centre on 28 March, 2019.

Event: Australia's Pivot to India

For more than two decades, Australia has been riding the wave of the ‘Asian Century’. But to increase our ongoing prosperity and security, we need to forge stronger bonds with our Indo-Pacific neighbours. Chief among these is India, whose economy is now the world’s fastest growing and presents a myriad of opportunities, yet our linkages with the subcontinent remain distinctly underdeveloped.

Senator Lisa Singh (Australian Senator since 2010, representing the state of Tasmania).

A La Trobe Asia event in partnership with the Australia India Institute (AII) and the University of Melbourne's Asian Law Centre. Recorded at the Australia India Institute on 26 March 2019.

Podcast: Australia's Engagement with Asia

La Trobe University's incoming Chancellor explains his views on the importance of engaging Asia, and China in particular. Australia and China enjoy a strong relationship in trade and education. Does this present any conflicts with the authoritarian nature of China’s regime, and our alliance with the United States, given the growing antagonism between Washington and Beijing?

John Brumby (Chancellor of La Trobe University, former Premier of Victoria, and until recently a member of the Australian board of China’s telecommunications giant Huawei)

Recorded on 19 February 2019.

Event: Mining Facts in the Evolving Australia-India Relationship

Australia and India are at a key moment in their relationship. Both countries will have elections this year. India is poised to become the third largest economy in the world, and there are opportunities for both countries in broader co-operation in areas such as security and research.

A report released by Australia’s Ministry for Trade, Tourism and Investment judged that no single market over the next 20 years will offer more growth opportunities for Australia than India. Despite much in common there are still cool reactions in some quarters. Resistance to investment from the Indian conglomerate, Adani Group, for the proposed Carmichael coal mine, in Queensland, is the latest episode in a history of faltering engagement. How can Australia and India develop closer ties to their mutual benefit?

Professor Ian Hall (International Relations, Griffith University)
Dr Ruth Gamble (David Myers Research Fellow, La Trobe University)
Mr Shabbir Wahid (Director at VFS Global Services)

Ms Ali Moore (Journalist and Vice-Chancellor's Fellow, The University of Melbourne)

A La Trobe Asia event in partnership with Asialink.

This event was held on the 19 March 2019 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne.

Podcast: Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order

China’s Belt and Road strategy is acknowledged to be the most ambitious geopolitical initiative of the age. Covering almost seventy countries by land and sea, It symbolises a new phase in China’s ambitions as a superpower: to remake the world economy and crown Beijing as the new centre of capitalism and globalisation.

Bruno Maçães (Senior advisor at Flint Global and a senior fellow at Renmin University in China).

Event: Dawn of Eurasia

The global geopolitical landscape is shifting towards Asia. It can be seen in China’s bold infrastructure project reopening the historic Silk Road and in the maritime success of port cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Asia is rising but so are its connections to Central Asia, Turkey and Europe.

Perhaps the best word to capture the emerging global order is 'Eurasian'.

At the Melbourne launch of his new book The Dawn of Eurasia, Bruno Maçães discusses the increasing strategic significance of Eurasia, the dominance of China, Russia and the EU, and how the United States is redefining its place in between.

Bruno was in conversation with Dr Euan Graham, Executive Director of La Trobe Asia.

His visit was supported by Adelaide Writer’s Week. It was held at the State Library of Victoria on 7 March 2019.

Podcast: When Trump Met Kim II

A second summit between the United States and North Korea has been cut short, with Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un walking away from the table suddenly with empty hands.

Is denuclearisation of North Korea realistic, and what does it mean for regional stability as a whole?

Dr Euan Graham (Executive Director, La Trobe Asia)

Podcast: Tourism in Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan, on the eastern edge of the Himalayas, is a country rarely visited by tourists. Entry is by application and extremely limited, assuring that only a select number of most dedicated tourists meet the criteria.

Paul Strickland (Program Director and Lecturer in Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management in the La Trobe Business School).

Podcast: What's happening to the Uyghur in China?

In the Chinese region of Xinjiang, tens of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained inside enormous extrajudicial ‘re-education camps’.

China faces mounting pressure from international human rights groups, governments, and academics to end these practices, but will anything help the Uyghurs?

Nury Turkel (Uyghur Human Rights Project)
Associate Professor James Leibold (Politics, Media and Philosophy, La Trobe University)

Podcast: China's Control of the South China Seas

The South China Seas is a region in hot contestation, and is important to many surrounding countries in terms of territory, resources and trade routes. Who controls the South China Seas? Spoiler alert… it’s probably China.

Professor Nick Bisley (Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University)
Dr Rebecca Strating, (Lecturer in Politics, La Trobe University)

Podcast: Developing the Brahmaputra River

China and India share a 4000km long border, and it’s been a relationship that has had its tense moments. This situation is made all the more complicated by the Brahmaputra river - rivers recognise no borders, and its resources are always in high demand.


Dr Ruth Gamble (David Myers Research Fellow, La Trobe University)