NSW: Archaeology and Heritage in the Tropical Pacific

Event Details

A magnificent double header presented by two magnificent archaeologists, as part of the Sydney Ideas series at the University of Sydney.

Wasteland and wonderland: Bikini Atoll – from atomic bomb testing ground to World Heritage

Presented by Steve Brown

When the nude dancer, Micheline Bernardini modelled the bikini at a public pool in Paris on 5 July 1946, the blaze of publicity that followed the unleashing of the fashion icon immediately trivialised the humanly willed catastrophe wrought on Bikini Atoll and its Indigenous inhabitants four days previous. Between 1946 and 1958 a total of 67 nuclear bomb tests were carried out in the Marshall Islands, including in 1954 the world’s first deliverable hydrogen bomb which destroyed three of Bikini’s islands, created a crater two kilometers wide and 80 meters deep and produced radio-active fallout that resulted in the deaths of, and ill-health effects for, Marshallese, American and Japanese people and for the atoll itself.

In 2009, I visited the almost uninhabited Bikini Atoll and made a preliminary documentation of the physical traces of nuclear testing. The presentation will consider how the landscape of Bikini Atoll has been (re)materialised and (re)imagined from a place for bomb testing to a World Heritage property.



Sydney’s Missionary Connections to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) in the 19th Century

Presented by James Flexner

For many Australians, Vanuatu is a holidaymaker’s ‘tropical paradise’ of pristine beaches, warm breezes, and swaying palm trees. In the 19th century, when this group of 86 islands was known as the New Hebrides, Australians would have been familiar with the place for a very different set of reasons. The New Hebrides were the location of major Christian missionary endeavours, including several well-publicised martyrdoms from the 1830s-1870s. After the 1870s, there was a vast expansion of missions, including major investments in infrastructure and materials that were arguably central to mission ‘success’ (though what this means is a matter for deeper critical interrogation). Archaeologists have been exploring the landscapes, sites, and artefacts of these early mission encounters since 2011. This talk will present specifically a few of the ‘Sydney connections’ of mission archaeology and heritage from the New Hebrides, an important reminder of Australia’s long-term colonial relationships to near neighbours in the South Pacific.



Date:  6pm, Monday 23 May 2016

Venue:  Philosophy Room, The Quadrangle, The University of Sydney

Register online: http://whatson.sydney.edu.au/events/published/sydney-ideas-archaeology-heritage-tropical-pacific