Shaping Canberra: The Lived Experience of Place, Home and Capital

Shaping Canberra: The Lived Experience of Place, Home and Capital

About the Conference

Humanities Research Centre Centenary of Canberra Conference

Venue: Australian National University, Sir Roland Wilson Building #120

Shaping Canberra will generate new national scholarly discussion about the lived experience of Canberra as a place, home and capital. It starts from the position that the local and national dimensions of Canberra are not opposing or even separate aspects, but deeply entwined. On this basis it asks participants to consider how the local, national (and international) play out in instances and reflections of Canberra’s life and development in the context of four themes: histories and memories, collections and archives, spaces and places; expressions and interpretations. International and national as well as local speakers will be part of the program which aims to create a lively community of discussion across disciplines and practices, and establish a basis for further research and discussion.


Conference, 17-20 September
Venue: Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU (registration required)

Shaping Canberra: The Exhibition
Time: 18 September-19 October
Opening 18 September, 6.00pm
Venue: ANU School of Art Gallery

Organised Tours
Both on Thursday 19 September
Tour 1 - Ken Taylor's Canberra City in the Landscape tour
Tour 2 - Acton Walkways tour

Free Public Lecture: Diversity in the Museum - the Example of Copenhagen
Time: 16 September, 12.30 – 2.00pm
Mr Jakob Parby, Curator, Museum of Copenhagen
In association with HRC public culture lecture series
Venue: Canberra Museum and Gallery, Cnr London Circuit & Civic Square, Canberra City
Bookings essential - limited spaces
RSVP: T: 02 6207 3968 or
by Monday 16 September

Public Workshop: Shaping Sustainable Urbanism: Are Garden Cities the Answer?
Time: 16 September, 10.00am-1.00pm
Dr Susan Parham, Head of Urbanism at the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Sustainable Communities
Venue: University House
Bookings essential, please see website

Free Public Lecture: Canberra: An International Heritage Perspective
Time: 17 September 6.00pm
Professor Ron van Oers, Vice Director,
World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for Asia and the Pacific
Venue: Visions Theatre, National Museum of Australia
Bookings essential:

Free Public Lecture: Whose memories, whose records: when the archival legacy of a colonial past meets the cultural records of a post-colonial future
Time: 25 September, 5.30pm - 6.30pm
Jeannette A. Bastian, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College, Boston
Venue: Coombes Lecture Theatre, Fellows Road, ANU

Public Workshop: Building an archival memory of Canberra
Time: 24 September, 9.00am-5.00pm
Led by Professor Jeannette Bastian, Simmons College, Boston, USA
Convened by Joanna Sassoon
In association with the Australian Society of Archivists
Venue: Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU
(Registration required)

Free Public Workshop: Writing the History of Communities
Time: 1 October, 2.00-5.00pm
Associate Professor Nicholas Brown, ANU and
Professor Kate Darian-Smith, University of Melbourne
Venue: Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU
Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU
Registraion FREE. If attending please email for catering purposes.

Public Workshop: What Canberra is that?
Time: 4 October, 9.30am – 4.30pm
Venue: Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU
(Registration required)

Conference Report

Invited speakers: Jakob Parby, Ron van Oers, Jeanette A. Bastain and Susan Parham

The Shaping Canberra conference and associated events were the HRC’s contribution to the Big Issue, Big Talk Centenary of Canberra program. They provided an opportunity for unprecedented discussion about the lived experience of Canberra as a place, home and capital.

In the context of the HRC research theme Cities, Imaginaries Publics, and the Centenary of
Canberra, the conference aims were to develop scholarly discussion about the experience of
Canberra from different disciplinary angles; to bring researchers and practitioners together in that discussion; to contextualise the specific discussion about Canberra in international as well as national contexts of research and practice; to highlight the complex national-local experience of Canberra; and to encourage research using Canberra source material.

The four main overlapping themes of the conference - histories and memories, spaces and places collections and archives, and expressions and interpretations – were woven through the program with each day offering different ways of thinking about Canberra as a place, home and capital. Over the four days of the conference we engaged with space as well as time, and with interior as well as exterior spaces. The exhibition at the School of Art brought these together in the imaginative frame of the Gallery and there was an opportunity for participants to engage directly with place through the tours.

180 people attended the conference and the workshops and many more for the public lectures
and exhibition. The workshops and public lectures provided by international and local key note speakers were similarly well attended. They included partnerships with the National Museum of Australia, Canberra Museum and Gallery, the Australian Society of Archivists and the Planning Institute of Australia, ACT Chapter. The Shaping Canberra exhibition opening by Emeritus Professor David Williams AM drew a large crowd. Canberra
ABC interviewed visiting speakers and The Canberra Times published a feature interview with visiting speaker Dr Ron van Oers and HRC Emeritus Professor Ken Taylor AM, as well as feature articles about the exhibition.

Report by Mary Hutchison, Conference Convenor


Dr Mary Hutchison, Visiting Fellow, HRC.

Leena Messina, Programs Manager, HRC. T: 61 (02) 6125 4357. E:

Date & time

Tue 17 Sep 2013, 4pm – Fri 20 Sep 2013, 5pm


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