The George E. Morrison Lectures in Ethnology

by Geremie R. Barmé
Founding Director,
Australian Centre on China in the World
Director, China Heritage Project

This material is reproduced from the China Heritage Project. See also: China Heritage Quarterly.

The George Ernest Morrison Lecture series was founded in 1932 by Chinese residents in Australia. It was, in their words, 'to honour for all time the great Australian who rendered valuable service to China.' It is easy to forget now that the lecture series not only commemorated Morrison—well known for his work on China and, among other things, for his acute observations on Japan's imperial ambitions in that country—but also that they were related to Chinese-Australian resistance to White Australia, reflecting also the alarm and outrage resulting from Japanese attacks on China in 1931. It was also hoped that the lectures would contribute to the cultural relations and understanding between the two countries at a time of heightened international tension and suspicion. The early success of the foundation was due in particular to the efforts of William J Liu (1893-1983) a politically active Sydney businessman, former managing director of Australia-China Mail Steamship Line (1917-24) and vice-president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in New South Wales, and William Ah Ket (1876-1936) a Melbourne barrister known for his public resistance to Australian racism, leaders, respectively, of the Chinese communities in those cities, assisted by a number of interested Australians. The Chinese Consul-General, W.P. Chen, who gave the inaugural as well as the fourth lectures, also provided timely assistance to this pioneering enterprise. Later, following the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, the Chinese Ambassador in Canberra would also lend support.

From its inception, the Lecture series was associated with the Institute of Anatomy in Canberra where, of the first ten lectures, all but one were delivered in May each year. This annual event was interrupted by the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1942, and the Morrison Lecture Series might never have been heard of again but for two fortuitous happenings: the founding of the Institute of Advanced Studies, the newly-conceived academic institution that provided substance to the new Australian National University, and the advent of Sir Douglas Berry Copland. This New Zealand-born economist-guru, academic and civil servant, upon completing his assignment as Australia's first post-War Ambassador to China, was called upon to assume the foundation Vice-Chancellorship of the new institution. Whether he had anything to do with the currency of a jocular description of the new institution as the 'Australian Institute of Advanced Studies of New Zealand', he was certainly responsible for reviving the Morrison Lecture. The first address he gave, in 1948, marked the re-foundation of this series of lectures, sponsored henceforth by the ANU. Mindful of the unprecedented changes and turmoil which he had personally witnessed taking place in China, Copland persuaded C P Fitzgerald of the British Council, whom he had met in Peking, to come to Canberra to join the new university, entrusting him with an investigatory tour of universities and centres in Asia, Europe and America where teaching and research on China and East Asia was being undertaken. This resulted in the creation of the Department of Far Eastern History within the Institute's Research School of Pacific Studies.

This chain of events brought to the Morrison Lecture a new intellectual and international character, as visiting scholars from various countries were invited to contribute, interspersed with local speakers. There would doubtless have been many more distinguished speakers had the available dates for delivery not been restricted by term- and exam-times of students, who have always been encouraged to attend, not to mention the limited stays and tight schedules of many of the potential lecturers. The permanent scholarly contribution to the series would also have been greater if all the speakers had been able to submit a written text for publication. Therefore, it is with great regret that we will never have the texts of Wang Ling's 'Calendar, Cannon and Clock in the Cultural Relations between Europe and China,' Fang Chaoying's 'The Great Wall of China: Keeping Out or Keeping In?,' Eugene Kamenka's 'Marxism and China,' Tuan Yi-fu's 'Chinese Attitudes to Nature: Idea and Reality,' Jerome Ch'en's 'Peasant Activism in Contemporary China,' Lord Lindsay of Birker's 'China and the West,' and the offering of the Dalai Lama of Tibet. But even then, the speakers so far represent no less than fifteen nationalities in double that number of disciplines.

The annual Morrison Lecture is organised by a committee of ANU colleagues from the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific.

George E. Morrison Lectures, 1932- Present
The George Ernest Morrison Lecture series was founded by Chinese residents in Australia and others in honour of the late Dr G. E. Morrison (1862-1920), a native of Geelong, Victoria, Australia.
The objects of the foundation of the lectureship were to honour for all time the memory of a great Australian who rendered valuable services to China and to improve cultural relations between China and Australia.
The foundation of the lectureship had the official support of the Consulate-General and was due in particular to the efforts of Mr William Liu, businessman, of Sydney; Mr William Ah Ket, barrister, of Melbourne; Mr F.J. Quinlan and Sir Colin MacKenzie, of Canberra. From the time of its inception until 1948 the lecture was associated with the Australian Institute of Anatomy, but in the latter year the responsibility for the management of the lectureship was taken over by the Australian National University, and the lectures delivered since that date have been given under the auspices of the University.

Until 2010, this information was compiled and maintained by the Contemporary China Centre of The Australian National University.

Following the presentation of lectures, papers were originally published annually in printed booklet form. Papers from 2000 are available online. Some earlier papers are also available online or in East Asian History, as indicated below.

  • Eighty-first Lecture:
    Benjamin Elman, The Role of Shanghai in Building Modern Science in China in the 19th Century. 11 November 2019.View video online.
  • Eightieth Lecture:
    John Makeham, Chinese Philosophy and Universal Values in Contemporary China. 11 November 2019.View video online
  • Seventy-nineth Lecture:
    HAMASHITA Takeshi, One hundred years of the Morrison collection at the Tōyō Bunko (Oriental Library): library, museum, and research. 23 October 2018.View video online
  • Seventy-eighth Lecture:
    Daniel Kane, The decipherment of dead languages in China: the case of Kitan. 19 October 2017.View video online
  • Seventy-seventh Lecture:
    Jonathan Unger, The Grassroots Turmoil in China’s Cultural Revolution: A Half-Century Perspective. 3 November 2016.
  • Seventy-sixth Lecture:
    David Walker, Fathoming the Orient: Australian Narratives. 3 September 2015.View video online.View video online
  • Seventy-fifth Lecture:
    Christine Wong, State of the Local State in China: Challenges for Xi Jinping and Beyond. 11 September 2014.
  • Seventy-fourth Lecture:
    Michael Nylan, New Perspectives on Han Urban Life. 26 June 2013.View video online.
  • Seventy-third Lecture:
    Mark Elliott, Reinventing the Manchus: An Imperial People in Post-Imperial China. 20 June 2012.View video online.
  • Seventy-second Lecture:
    Linda Jaivin, Morrison’s World. 13 July 2011.View video online.
  • Seventy-first Lecture:
    Børge Bakken, The Norms of Death: Capital Punishment in China. 1 December 2010.View video online.
  • Seventieth Lecture:
    The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister of Australia, Australia and China in the World. 23 April 2010.View video online
  • Sixty-ninth Lecture:
    Jane Macartney, Reporting the Olympic Year. 22 October 2008.
  • Sixty-eighth Lecture:
    Dai Qing, 1948: How Peaceful was the Liberation of Beiping? 5 September 2007.
  • Sixty-seventh Lecture:
    Scott Rozelle, Democracy, Tax Reform & the Development of China’s Villages in Early 21st Century. 9 August 2006.
  • Sixty-sixth Lecture:
    John Minford, Tradition and Mischief in the Strange Tales of Pu Songling (1640-1715). 9 November 2005.
  • Sixty-fifth Lecture:
    David Goodman, Reforming the Local, Constructing China: Place Identity in a North China Province. 22 November 2004.
  • Sixty-fourth Lecture:
    Wen-hsin Yeh, Historian and Courtesan: Chen Yinke and the Writing of ‘Liu Rushi Biezhuan’. 8 July 2003.
  • Sixty-third Lecture:
    Anita Chan, Globalization and China’s ‘Race to the Bottom’ in Labour Standards. 24 July 2002.
  • Sixty-second Lecture:
    Ezra F. Vogel, The China-Japan-US Triangle. 5 July 2001.
    ISBN 0 7315 2301 6, 25pp.
  • Sixty-first Lecture:
    Frederick Teiwes, Politics at the “Core”: The Political Circumstances of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. 5 December 2000.
    ISBN 0 7315 2301 6, 55pp.
  • Sixtieth Lecture:
    T.H. Barrett, Edwardian Theatre and the Lost Shape of Asia: Some
    Remarks on Behalf of a Cinderella Subject
    . 9 August 1999.
    ISBN 0 7315 2301 6, 30pp.
    Printed in East Asian History 19 (June 2000).
  • Fifty-ninth Lecture:
    Donald Leslie, The Integration of Religious Minorities in China: The Case of Chinese Muslims. 5 November 1998.
    ISBN 0 7315 2301 6, 42pp.
  • Fifty-eighth Lecture:
    Philip A. Kuhn, The Homeland: Thinking About the History of Chinese Overseas. 23 July 1997.
    ISBN 0 7315 2301 6, 21pp.
  • Fifty-seventh Lecture:
    Geremie Barmé, The Garden of Perfect Brightness. 10 December 1996.
    Printed in East Asian History 11 (June 1996), 47pp.
  • Fifty-sixth Lecture:
    Martin K. Whyte, City Versus Countryside in China’s Development. 4 October 1995.
    ISBN 0 7315 2301 6, 43pp.
  • Fifty-fifth Lecture:
    Ramon Myers, The Socialist Marketplace in China: Fact or Fiction? 8 November 1994.
    ISBN 0 7315 2180 3, 27pp.
  • Fifty-fourth Lecture:
    William J. F. Jenner, A Knife in My Ribs for a Mate: Reflections on Another Chinese Tradition. 6 October 1993.
    ISBN 0 7315 2179 X, 54pp.
  • Fifty-third Lecture:
    Dalai Lama, Untitled Address. 8 May 1992.
  • Fifty-second Lecture:
    Beverly Hooper, Rethinking Contemporary China. 21 November 1991.
    ISBN 731513401, 29pp.
  • Fifty-first Lecture:
    Rafe de Crespigny, Man from the Margin: Cao Cao and the Three Kingdoms. 8 November 1990
    ISBN 73151128X, 42pp.
  • Fiftieth Lecture:
    Stephen Fitzgerald, Australia’s China. 9 October 1989.
    ISBN 0 7315 0814 9, 29pp.
  • Forty-ninth Lecture:
    Ross Garnaut, China: One Country, Two Systems. 17 August 1988.
    ISBN 0 7315 0803 3, 17pp.
  • Forty-eighth Lecture:
    Jean Chesneaux, China in the Eyes of the French Intellectuals. 24 June 1987.
    ISBN 0 7315 0393 7, 22pp.
  • Forty-seventh Lecture:
    Pierre Ryckmans, The Chinese Attitude Towards the Past. 16 July 1986.
    ISBN 0 8678 4959 2, 22pp.
  • Forty-sixth Lecture:
    Allen S. Whiting, China and the World: Independence vs Dependence. 31 July 1985.
    ISBN 0 8678 4714 X, 36pp.
  • Forty-fifth Lecture:
    J. S. Gregory, The Chinese and Their Revolutions. 8 August 1984.
    ISBN 0 8678 4548 1, 29pp.
  • Forty-fourth Lecture:
    Chan Hok-lam, Control of Publishing in China, Past and Present. 24 August 1983.
    ISBN 0 8678 4355 1, 50pp.
  • Forty-third Lecture:
    Alan Thorne, China and Australia: Fourth Thousand Years of Contact. 4 August 1982.
  • Forty-second Lecture:
    Tien Ju-K’ang, Moslem Rebellion in China: A Yunnan Controversy. 17 June 1981.
    ISBN 0 8678 4060 9, 21pp.
  • Forty-first Lecture:
    Fang Chao-ying, The Great Wall of China: Keeping Out or Keeping In? 5 June 1980.
  • Fortieth Lecture:
    Wang Gungwu, Power, Rights and Duties in Chinese History. 19 September 1979.
    ISBN 0 9081 6049 6, 33pp.
  • Thirty-ninth Lecture:
    Mark Elvin, Self-liberation and Self-immolation in Modern Chinese Thought. 13 September 1978.
    ISBN 0 90959638 7, 32pp.
  • Thirty-eighth Lecture:
    Roy Hofheinz, People, Places and Politics in Modern China. 17 August 1977.
  • Thirty-seventh Lecture:
    Lo Hui-min, The Tradition and Prototypes of the China-Watcher. 27 October 1976.
    ISBN 0 9095 9632 8, 34pp.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 11 (June 1996).
  • Thirty-sixth Lecture:
    Yi-fu Tuan, Chinese Attitudes to Nature: Idea and Reality. 3 September 1975.
  • Thirty-fifth Lecture:
    Jerome Ch’en, Peasant Activism in Contemporary China. 22 July 1974.
  • Thirty-fourth Lecture:
    Liu Ts’un-yan, On the Art of Ruling a Big Country: Views of Three Chinese Emperors. 13 September 1973.
    ISBN 0 7081 0405 3, 23pp.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 11 (June 1996).
  • Thirty-third Lecture:
    Eugene Kamenka, Marx, Marxism and China. 6 September 1972.
  • Thirty-second Lecture:
    Igor de Rachewiltz, Prester John and Europe’s Discovery of East Asia. 3 November 1971.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 11 (June 1996).
  • Thirty-first Lecture:
    K.A. Wittfogel, Agriculture: A Key to the Understanding of Chinese Society, Past and Present. 6 April 1970.
  • Thirtieth Lecture:
    E. A. Huck, The Assimilation of the Chinese in Australia. 6 November 1969.
    ISBN 0 7081 0265 4, 17pp.
  • Twenty-ninth Lecture:
    J. D. Frodsham, New Perspectives in Chinese Literature. 23 July 1968.
    ISBN 0 7081 0219 0, 38pp.
  • Twenty-eighth Lecture:
    J. W. De Jong, Buddha’s Word in China. 18 October 1962.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 11 (June 1996).
  • Twenty-seventh Lecture:
    A. M. Halpern, Chinese Foreign Policy - Success or Failure?. 9 August 1962.
  • Twenty-sixth Lecture:
    Wang Ling, Calender, Cannon and Clock in the Cultural Relations between Europe and China. 18 November 1964.
  • Twenty-fifth Lecture:
    H.F. Simon, Some Motivations of Chinese Foreign Policy. 3 October 1963
  • Twenty-fourth Lecture:
    N. G. D. Malmqvist, Problems and Methods in Chinese Linguistics. 22 November 1962.
  • Twenty-third Lecture:
    L. Carrington Goodrich, China’s Contacts with Other Parts of Asia in Ancient Times. 1 August 1961.
  • Twenty-second Lecture:
    Chen Chih-ma, Chinese Landscape Painting: The Golden Age. 5 October 1960.
  • Twenty-first Lecture:
    C.N. Spinks, The Khmer Temple of Prah Vihar. 6 October 1959.
  • Twentieth Lecture:
    A.R. Davis, The Narrow Lane: Some Observations on the Recluse in Traditional Chinese Society. 19 November 1958.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 11 (June 1996).
  • Nineteenth Lecture:
    Otto P.N. Berkelbach van der Sprenkel, The Chinese Civil Service. 4 November 1957.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 11 (June 1996).
  • Eighteenth Lecture:
    Leonard B. Cox, The Buddhist Temples of Yun-kang and Lung-men. 17 October 1956.
  • Seventeenth Lecture:
    H. Bielenstein, Emperor Kuang-Wu (A.D. 25-57) and the Northern Barbarians. 2 November 1955.
  • Sixteenth Lecture:
    M. Titiev, Chinese Elements in Japanese Culture. 27 July 1954.
  • Fifteenth Lecture:
    Lord Lindsay of Birker, China and the West. 20 October 1953.
  • Fourteenth Lecture:
    H.V. Evatt, Some Aspects of Morrison’s Life and Work. 4 December 1952.
  • Thirteenth Lecture:
    C.P. FitzGerald, The Revolutionary Tradition in China. 19 March 1951.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 11 (June 1996).
  • Twelfth Lecture:
    J.K. Rideout, Politics in Medieval China. 28 October 1949.
  • Eleventh Lecture:
    D.B. Copland, The Chinese Social Structure. 27 September 1948.
  • Tenth Lecture:
    W.G. Goddard, The Min Shen. A Study in Chinese Democracy. 5 June 1941.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Ninth Lecture:
    Howard Mowll, West China as Seen Through the Eyes of the Westerner. 29 May 1940.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Eighth Lecture:
    S.H. Roberts, The Gifts of the Old China to the New. 5 June 1939.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Seventh Lecture:
    A.F. Barker, The Impact of Western Industrialism on China. 17 May 1938.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Sixth Lecture:
    Chun-jien Pao, China Today: With Special Reference to Higher Education. 4 May 1937.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Fifth Lecture:
    Wu Lien-teh, Reminiscences of George E. Morrison; and Chinese Abroad. 2 September 1936.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Fourth Lecture:
    W.P. Chen, The New Culture Movement in China. 10 May 1935.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Third Lecture:
    J.S. MacDonald, The History and Development of Chinese Art. 3 May 1934.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Second Lecture:
    W. Ah Ket, Eastern Thought, with More Particular Reference to Confucius. 3 May 1933.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).
  • Inaugural Lecture:
    W.P. Chen, The Objects of the Foundation of the Lectureship, and a Review of Dr Morrison’s Life in China. 10 May 1932.
    Reprinted in East Asian History 34 (December 2007).

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