Trust in a time of pandemic

The use and abuse of civilisations


Emeritus Professor John Fitzgerald AM

Our subject is pandemics and civilisations, and the problem of trust in the contemporary world. Our question is whether a country’s civilisational heritage can be abused, in discussions around contemporary world affairs, and whether that same cultural heritage can usefully be deployed in exposing and dealing with abuse when and where we find it.

Our primary focus is on China and Australia, or more broadly, the West.

Looking about us today, how are arguments about civilisations featuring in global conversations, surrounding the outbreak, the spread, and the management of the Corona Virus (COVID 19) pandemic?

Speaker profile: Emeritus Professor John Fitzgerald AM

Before joining Swinburne in 2013 John served five years as Representative of The Ford Foundation in Beijing where he directed the Foundation’s China operations. Before that, he was Head of the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University and before that again directed the International Centre of Excellence in Asia-Pacific Studies at the Australian National University. In Canberra he served as Chair of the Education Committee of the Australia-China Council of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as chair of the Committee for National and International Cooperation of the Australian Research Council, and as International Secretary of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He is currently the President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His research focuses on territorial government and civil society in China and on Australia’s Asian diasporas. His publications have won international recognition, including the Joseph Levenson Prize of the US Association for Asian Studies and the Ernest Scott Prize of the Australian Historical Association.

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