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ACAHUCH Symposium 2021: Navigating Encounters and Exchanges:

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Japanese Room, Level 4, Glyn Davis Building (Melbourne School of Design),

Masson Rd, University of Melbourne

Parkville, VIC 3010


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A two-day symposium discussing commodity, craft, labour and expertise across the Asia-Pacific from the 1800s-1950s and beyond.

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The 5th Annual International Symposium of ACAHUCH

Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and Melbourne School of Design

The University of Melbourne

25-26 November 2021-

Buildings for industry, agriculture and trade in Australia, the Pacific and South-East Asia share an important but forgotten history of encounter, exchange, and influence. Industrial heritage is also under-represented in World Heritage lists, with the Asia Pacific region poorly represented and global connections between industrial sites insufficiently understood (Falser & Yang, 2001). This symposium addresses these research gaps by providing a forum for academics, archivists, and heritage practitioners to share their examinations of unprecedented buildings for trade and industrial-scale resource extraction across Asia-Pacific’s multiple colonial entities and their successor nation-states. The two-day symposium will feature international and local keynote speakers as well as panel discussions which explore flows and connections of commodity, craft, labour and expertise between sites and communities across Asia Pacific from 1800s – 1950s and beyond. We invite:

  • research on the infrastructure built by transnational companies and commercial enterprises and their construction of facilities for industrial agriculture, aquaculture, trade and tourism.
  • identification and exploration of traces and sites of encounter between colonial enterprises and indigenous societies, and between migrant labour and its hosts.
  • considerations of the post-colonial afterlife of these places, their continued use, and reinterpretation as heritage places today.

SUB-THEMESEnterprises and Commodities:

  • Industry (plantation, aquaculture, farming, mining, travel)
  • Trade and shipping networks (trading company, bank, shipping company)
  • Commodities including sugar, copra, timber, pearl, wool, butter


  • Plantation/mining estates, trading and travel infrastructure
  • Port settlements and trade stations
  • Trade displays and expositions


  • Labour
  • Materiality, craft and building technology
  • Marketing and visual representation of imperial/colonial/intercolonial network (media/display/advertisement/ephemera)

Heritage and Historical Memory:

  • Conservation of fabric and materials in the colonial / Empire contexts
  • Designation and protection of sites of exchange and encounter
  • Cultivation of story-telling, interpretation and experience today


Prof. Alex Bremner (University of Edinburgh)

Alex is a Professor of Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include the history of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British architecture, architecture and empire, national identity and its relationship to the wider built environment, and religious architecture (particularly Anglican and Nonconformist culture in Britain and its colonial empire during the nineteenth century). His particular interest concerns the intersection between European empire and the globalisation of architectural form, knowledge and expertise, including the nature and effects of corporate agency. His publications include Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire (Oxford University Press, 2016) and ‘Tides That Bind: Waterborne Trade and the Infrastructure Networks of Jardine, Matheson & Co’ recently published in Perspecta.

Assoc. Prof. Julia Martínez (University of Wollongong) and Prof. Adrian Vickers (University of Sydney); Joint Keynote

Julia T. Martínez is an Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong and was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2013-17). She explores histories of transcolonial mobilities across the Asia Pacific region, and themes of labour, trade and gender. Her books are The Pearl Frontier: Indonesian Labor and Indigenous Encounters in Australia’s Northern Trading Network (with Adrian Vickers, 2015); Colonialism and Male Domestic Service Across the Asia Pacific (with Claire Lowrie, Frances Steel & Victoria Haskins, 2019) and Locating Chinese Women: Historical mobility between China and Australia (Kate Bagnall & Martínez eds, 2021).

Adrian Vickers is a Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Sydney. He researches the cultural history of Southeast Asia. He has held a series of Australian Research Council grants (Discovery and Linkage), the most recent looking at modern and contemporary Indonesian art, Cold War history, and labour and industry in Southeast Asia. Alongside The Pearl Frontier (with Julia T. Martínez, 2015), his books include Bali: A Paradise Created (2012), A History of Modern Indonesia (2013) and Balinese Art: Paintings and Drawings of Bali, 1800-2010 (2012).


We are planning to publish selected papers from the symposium as part of a book proposal on the theme of the symposium. If you wish to be considered for inclusion in the book proposal, we will require submission of your full paper (up to 4500 words, excluding footnotes and references) by 11 February 2022.


The conference will be held both online and in-person at the University of Melbourne’s Glyn Davis - MSD Building (subject to capacity limit). A fee of $50 to cover catering expenses will apply for those attending in-person. Details to follow.


The symposium team is Amanda Achmadi (coordinator), Soon-Tzu Speechley, Hannah Lewi, Paul Walker and Theo Blankley. For further details, please contact Theo Blankley, theo.blankley@unimelb.edu.au Hub Coordinator, ACAHUCH

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Japanese Room, Level 4, Glyn Davis Building (Melbourne School of Design),

Masson Rd, University of Melbourne

Parkville, VIC 3010


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Organiser University of Melbourne

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