Past symposia


15-16 November, State Library of NSW Sydney

The program was convened by Professor Bronwen Neil FAHA and Profressor Catriona Mackenzie FAHA both of Macquarie University.

Twenty-five years ago, American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington posited the question ‘The Clash of Civilisations?’ suggesting religious and cultural identity would be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War era (Foreign Affairs, 1993). He predicted that, as the West began to develop a better understanding of the cultural fundamentals underlying other civilisations, Western civilization and its values would cease to be regarded as ‘universal’. This has certainly proved to be the case.

The Symposium will reassess Huntington’s question, in light of recent global developments and historical inquiries, and consider how the concept of ‘the clash of civilisations’ has been used as an enduring rhetorical device for explaining divisions between groups and across time and place. It will explore modern and ancient cross-cultural encounters and their contemporary implications in the spheres of history, politics, and religion, as well as their cultural expressions in literature, film, and the arts.

The event was generously supported by:

  • Principal Sponsor: Macquarie University
  • Venue Sponsor: State Library of New South Wales
  • Associate Sponsors: University of New England, University of Sydney, University of Wollongong, UNSW Sydney, UTS and Western Sydney University

Select presentations and related works by program speakers:

Two public lectures were held in conjunction with the Symposium:

The 49th Academy Lecture — Turning the Level of Civilisation Up: The twenty-first century challenge — was presented by Honorary Fellow Professor Julianne Schultz AM FAHA. An excerpt of the lecture has been published in The Conversation and the audio recording and video are available.

The 8th Hancock Lecture — Hybrid civilisations or Clash of civilisations?: Re-visiting the Muslim Other — was given by early career Arab and Islamic Studies scholar, Dr Raihan Ismail. The audio recording and video are available.

Edited versions will feature in Humanities Australia No. 10.