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Welcome to the website of the Oriental Society

Welcome to our website.The Oriental Society of Australia is the oldest society in Australia promoting Asian Studies in this continent since 1956. We are also moving with time, now you can contact us through our website. Please feel free to do so and send your views and suggestions and join our organisation.

Hugh Clarke, President.

2015 Events:

Commemorating the 70th anniversary since the AsiaPacificWar

2014 Events:

The Oriental Society of Australia proudly announces the publication of:

Shirley Chan, Barbara Hendrischke and Sue Wiles (eds) Willow Catkins: Festschrift for Dr.Lily Xiao Hong Lee on the Occasion of Her 75th Birthday.
Sydney: The Oriental Society of Australia,Inc. 2014.

Table of Contents:
1. The Classical Text
2. Women's Culture and Women's Status
3.Religion,Science and Archeology
4.Understanding China and Chinese Culture

For purchase information please visit the Sydney University Press.

Lily Xiao Hong Lee
Honorary Associate - University of Sydney

2013 Events:

(1) Annual General Meeting 2013

The Oriental Society cordially invites members and guests of the Society to the Annual General Meeting.  I am sorry for this very short notice and do hope the date will suit to everyone.

Date: Tuesday July 16th, 2013

Time: 5.00pm –6:00pm (AGM)
         6:00-7:00 (Presentation by Professor Jocelyn Chey)

Venue: Common Room 524, Brennan MacCallum The University of Sydney

Nominations for all office bearers should be sent to the Honorary Secretary: by the 15 July, 2013.

At the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, the distinguished scholar Professor Jocelyn Chey will address the meeting on the topic ‘Culture and Diplomacy: the case of Taiwan’.

Please download the Invitation Flyer and the Nomination for Office OSA 2013.


2012 Events:

(1) Annual General Meeting 2012

The Oriental Society cordially invites members and guests of the Society to the Annual General Meeting.
Date: July 30th, 2012
Time: 5.00pm –6:00pm
Venue: Common Room 524, Brennan MacCallum The University of Sydney


1. Apologies
2. Minutes of the 2011 AGM
3. President’s Report
4. Treasurer’s Report
5. JOSA Editor’s Report
6. Website Report
7. Election of Officers for 2012-2013
8. Any other business

(2) AR Davis Lecture

Date: Monday August 27th 2012
Time: 5:00-6:30
Venue: TBA
Speaker: Professor Jamila Hussain
Title: Challenge of the Sharia: Islamic Law in the Australian context

(3) Nomination for Office bearers 2012-2013

Please download the related from HERE.

(4) Executive Council meeting 2012

Date: Monday 27th February 2012
Time: 5:00pm
Venue: Professor Mike Carter 's residence 290

Date: 25 June 2012
Venue: Common Room 524, Brennan MacCallum
The University of Sydney

Date: 29 October 2012
Venue: Common Room 524, Brennan MacCallum
The University of Sydney

(5) April Seminar

Date: Friday 27th April 2012
Time: 5.00pm to 6.30 pm
Venue: The Common room, Woolley Building, The University of Sydney
Speaker: Professor S. N. Mukherjee
Title: The City and the Poet: Calcutta and Rabindranath Tagore.

(6) May Seminar

Date: Monday 28th May 2012
Time: 5.00pm to 6.30 pm
Venue: History Room S223 Quadrangle Building, The University of Sydney
Speaker: Dr Leonid Petrov
Title: Like Father Like Son – North Korea after Kim Jong-Il

July seminar by Professor Hans Hendrischke has been cancelled and we have not had enough time to find a replacement.

(7) End of the year special event

Title: Myanmer songs by Yuri Takahashi
Date: 10 December 2012
Venue: Nippon Club
229 Macquarie Street Sydney NSW 2000
(02)9232 2688


  • 28th May Oriental Society Seminar: Dr. Leonid Petrov

Title: Like Father Like Son – North Korea after Kim Jong-Il

Date: Monday 28th May 2012

Time: 5.00pm to 6.30 pm

Venue: History Room S223 Quadrangle Building, The University of Sydney

Speaker: Dr Leonid Petrov

Abstract: On a frosty winter’s day in December last year North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il breathed his last breath. Teary-eyed reporters from the country’s official news agency told the world the 69-year-old had “passed away from great mental and physical strain”. Later reports would reveal that the Dear Leader was travelling to the country’s north on his armoured train when he reached the end of the line; a massive heart attack the cause of death. But, Dr Leonid Petrov, a lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Department of Korean Studies, has a slightly different take on this version of events. The analyst, who has been watching North Korea closely for decades, says that Kim Jong-il, whose health had been on the rails, might have suicided. Why did Kim Jong-il suddenly die in December just a few weeks before 2012? It was because it was very convenient and almost the perfect time for him to disappear. He surely understood that and had carefully prepared the country for a smooth power transition. Kim’s death has seen his son, Kim Jong-un, rushed into country’s hot seat. But, the more things change in the reclusive, pariah state, the more they stay the same, and the recent leadership succession is definitely a case of ‘like father, like son’. Biographies: Leonid Petrov graduated from St. Petersburg State University (1994) in Russia, where he majored in Korean History and Language. He obtained a PhD in History (2003) at the Australian National University. In 2003-2005, Dr. Petrov taught Korean History at the Intercultural Institute of California and Keimyung University in Daegu. In 2006-2007, he was Chair of Korean Studies at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). Currently Dr. Petrov teaches Korean History and Language at the University of Sydney. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the ANU’s School of International, Political & Strategic Studies


  • 27th April Oriental Society Seminar: Professor S. N. Mukherjee

Title: The City and the Poet: Calcutta and Rabindranath Tagore.

Time: : 5.00pm to 6.30 pm

Venue: The Common room, Woolley Building, The University of Sydney

Abstract: In 1961, at a gathering in London to celebrate Tagore Centenary, Jack Lindsay, the doyen of Australian socio-cultural criticism, said, ‘Rabindranath Tagore as a poet and humanist is widely known as a name, but generally as little more. His achievement is, however, so vital and so far reaching that we can all profit by considering and studying it. His many-sidedness becomes a powerful protest against the fragmentation of modern men, an expression of human wholeness’… (Jack Lindsay,’ Tagore, Poet and Humanist’, in Stephen Knight and S.N.Mukherjee (eds.), Words and Worlds: Studies in the social role of Verbal Culture, SASSC no.1 Sydney, 1983.) In this paper I shall introduce Tagore to an audience in Australia. I think that his name is widely known, but little more. I shall try to show that his poetry and his thoughts are very relevant today, particularly on education, peace and green environment. The second part will deal with the Indian political world and Tagore. The third and main part of my paper will deal with Calcutta, a city on which I have been engaged in research for the last 46 years and have published books and articles on urban history. And Rabindranath was born in Calcutta and died in Calcutta. Although his most creative period both in prose and poetry was those twenty years, between 1890 and 1910, when he spent most of his time in Shantiniketan in West Bengal and/or in Shiliadoho a family property in, what we now call Bangladesh, the City remained very important to the Poet.

Biography: Professor Mukherjee has 49 years of teaching and post-doctoral research experience. Before joining the department of History, Sydney in 1971, he was Agatha Harrison Memorial Fellow, St.Antony’s College, Oxford, University Assistant Lecturer in the History of South Asia, University of Cambridge, Editor, Nehru Papers, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, New Delhi, and Director, ICSSR (Indian Council of Social Science Research) project on the history of Calcutta, which was sponsored by the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. In 1988 Professor Mukherjee was appointed the Director of the Centre for Indian Studies, University of Sydney. He was also founder of the Department of Indian Sub-Continental Studies. He was active in various Committees of the Faculty of Arts, particularly in Inter-diciplinary and Inter-area Committees. He introduced many innovative courses in the Departments of History and Indian Studies. He was a member of the Australia-India Council, 1993-1995. He has travelled widely in Europe, America, India and Australia, giving lectures, attending seminars and conferences. Recently, in 2008 he gave the 225th Foundation Day Oration to the Asiatic Society, Kolkata. Professor Mukherjee has written and /or edited and translated 23 books in the years between 1966 and 2005. He has also published over 110 articles and reviews in England, The Netherlands, USA, Italy, India and Australia, written in English and Bengali.

Please download flyer HERE.

2011 Events:

  • 13th December University of Sydney Guest Lecture: Dr Barak Kushner, Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Title: Nothing to laugh at: Chinese humor and the image of Japan

Time: 4:30 for 5.00pm to 6.30 pm

Venue: The Refectory Room (H113), Main Quad (S-W corner, basement level).

Abstract: Humour is as much a cultural force in China as it is in other East Asian regions, although in the English-speaking world we might not always regard the offerings as “funny”, in the strict laugh-out-loud sense. As a deep-seated barometer of social attitudes, humour is an informative historical set of values through which to examine the last century of Sino-Japan relations. Wartime and post-war layers of Chinese humour shaped an enduring motif of the guizi or “devil” image of Japanese soldiers. However, on the eve of the twenty-first century, these accumulated layers of representations of Japan have given rise to a marked change – Japanese depicted not only as humorous “devils” but also as corruptible human entities.

Biographies: Barak Kushner received his PhD in history from Princeton University and works on wartime propaganda, humour and media as well as the history of Sino-Japanese relations. He is a Senior Lecturer in modern Japanese history at the University of Cambridge. His many publications include a parallel study to the present topic – of Japanese propaganda cartoons against the Chinese, “Laughter as materiel: The mobilization of comedy in Japan’s fifteen-year war”, The International History Review 26, no. 2 (June 2004): 300-330.


Please download flyer HERE.

  • 28th November, Seminar by Professor Michael Lewis

Title: From Possession to Madness in Modern Japan

Time: 5.00pm to 6.30 pm

Venue: The Common room 524, Brennan MacCallum, The University of Sydney

Abstract: An ongoing debate in the history of Japanese medicine concerns the Japanese discovery of modern madness. “Discovery” does not mean that before the 1870s or 1880s that disturbed minds went unnoticed in Japan. People who appear physically unremarkable but transgress boundaries of “normal” behaviour have been ever present in Japan as in every other society. The debate is not about the presence or absence of difference, but about its cause. This presentation explores the historical ramifications of etiology, explanations or diagnosis based on medical causes, in shaping modern Japanese categories of sickness and health. Medicalizing what before the mid-19th century was widely considered spiritual possession created novel and lasting social structures and attitudes. Making mental difference a medical category, one that legally enforced established therapies and institutions, has shaped the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness down to today. Efforts by Japanese psychiatrists to professionalize their calling reinforced the new diagnostic regime. The tragic case of Dr. Ishida Noboru is considered to illustrate how a new medical system work as it transformed the spiritually possessed into sickened patients.

Biography: Michael Lewis is a Professor in the Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Sydney and an historian of modern Japan. Since taking postgraduate degrees in History at Stanford University his main area of research has been the intersections of social, cultural, and scientific history. His major studies on mass movements in nineteenth and twentieth century Japan and state formation have been published by Harvard and University of California presses. More recently, he has published work on the crowd’s popular “intellectuals,” satirists and singers, and their inconsistent roles in movements for greater economic and political equality in Japan (A Life Adrift, Routledge, 2011). He is currently researching the history of psychiatry in modern Japan by exploring the lives of medical professionals who introduced Western therapies from the late nineteenth century through the 1940s. Before joining the Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Sydney, he directed the Asian Studies Centre at Michigan State University, where he led in creating the first All-Asia U.S. Department of Education National Resource Centre.

Please download flyer HERE.

  • 13th October, Seminar by Frederik L. Schodt - Creation of a Manga-Comic Hybrid

Frederick L Schodt is a world renowned author and expert on manga. He was awarded the Japanese Order of the Rising with Rosette for his work in helping to promote Japan’s popular culture in the United States. This is a unique opportunity for Australian researchers, students and those interested in Japonisme and manga to have firsthand contact with this Japanese popular culture icon.

Please download the flier for this event here: Frederik Schodt Seminar

For more information on Frederik L. Schodt, please refer to: or


This International Symposium will explore the immediate consequences of the Asia-Pacific War, the longer term developments that have hindered or contributed to reconciliation and the place of memorial diplomacy in rebuilding international relations.

  • 2011 PDF Initiative

Starting this year the Oriental Society of Australia will gradually make its substantial repository of research papers available for download in digital form. The first paper made available is Lily Lee's LANGUAGE AND SELF-ESTIMATION: THE CASE OF WEI-JIN WOMEN, published originally in Vol.25 & 26 of the 1993–94 JOSA edition (pp. 150–164).


Oriental Society Presentations for 2009

13. July: Professor Leith Morton - Rethinking Literary History

16-18 July: Numismatic Conference

28 September: Professor Neville Meaney - A.R. Davis Memorial Lecture



Oriental Society Presentations for 2008

8. December: Dr Lily Lee - An illustrated talk on women along the Silk Road: images from the murals of Dunhuang and archaeological findings along the Silk Road

15. September: Professor Sam Lieu - Gallipoli after Gallipoli: the Ottoman Phase

25. August: Hugh Clarke - A place for Okinawa: Japan’s changing perceptions of its southern islands.

28. July: Soumyen Mukherjee - Sir William Jones, Scottish Enlightenment and the Bengal Renaissance.

16. June: Malcolm Voyce (Macquarie University) - Buddhist ‘Transgressions’: The Violation of Rules of Buddhist Monks.

1. May, 5 (AGM session): Mark Rolfe (UNSW), paper on the Danish cartoons about Muhammad and Islam entitled: Cartoons that are Danish - not such Sweet Confections?





About JOSA and OSA
Related Links

SYNLAC Workshop 2007








70th Anniversary Since the Asia Pacific War Conference 2015

International Pacificism Seminar - Postgraduates Forum -Kyoto 2014 (Part 4)

Wounds, Scars, and Healing: Civil Society and Postwar Pacific Basin Reconciliation, Seoul -2014 (Part3)

Looking Back on the Asia-Pacific war: Art, Cinem and Media, 2012 (Part2)

The Asia-Pacific War: Return, Representation, Reconciliation, 2011 (Part1)

Numismatic  Conference and Exhibitions 2009

OSA 2006 Conference:World Without Walls:Asia and the West - 21st Century Perspectives