Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne
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2022 Kathleen Fitzpatrick History Lecture
Presented by Professor Mark Edele
Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression against democratic Ukraine is legitimized in part by the claim that there is no Ukrainian nation. Contemporary Ukraine, Putin maintains, is an artificial state created for no good reasons by the Bolsheviks. It has always been Russian and should be Russian again. He developed these notions in a July 2021 article which became something of a historical justification for the invasion.
This lecture engages with the President-Historian’s thoughts and explores to what extent his arguments conform to historical reality. The lecture will show that Putin’s claims about the non-existence of the Ukrainian nation are not only historically ill-informed, rather, they are a projection of problems with Russian national consciousness. In sharp contrast to Ukraine, the Russian state has not managed to find a national identity which would break with the imperial past. Intellectually, a decolonization of Russian self-understanding is possible. But the historical unity of the Russian state, the Russian empire, and Russian nation make such a post-imperial consciousness difficult.
As one historian has put it: Russia never had an empire; it was one from the outset. The war on Ukraine is one outcome of the inability of Russia’s political elite to find a positive sense of self after the breakdown of the Soviet empire in 1991.
The winner of the Ernest Scott Prize will be announced following the lecture. The Ernest Scott Prize is awarded annually for the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand, and is supported by the History Program in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies.
This is a free online event, but we encourage audience members to donate to the Ukraine Crisis Appeal, established by the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations.
2022 Sir Kenneth Bailey Memorial Lecture co-hosted by the Melbourne Journal of International Law
Throughout history, technological changes have reshaped the character of warfare. In some instances, major developments in military technology have precipitated changes in the law that governs warfare. Over the past decade, major debates about the adequacy of the currently legal regulation of armed conflict have focused on the impact of two technological shifts – the increased autonomy in weapon systems and the proliferation of cyber capabilities.
Despite their interconnectedness, these debates have proceeded in different fora and along rather different trajectories. At the same time, both debates have highlighted the challenges that the international legal system faces when dealing with technological change in the peace and security context. This lecture seeks to provide a general account of the similarities and differences of these two regulatory debates, and what these might mean for the future of the law of armed conflict and arms control law.
Sir Kenneth Bailey Memorial Lecture
The Sir Kenneth Bailey Memorial Lecture honours the fourth Dean of Melbourne Law School, Kenneth Hamilton Bailey, who played a significant part in Australia’s contribution to the formation of the United Nations.
The Melbourne Law School are pleased to co-host this lecture with the Melbourne Journal of International Law.