ARC grants to focus on peace in the Middle East and sex and the Australian military

Monday, 14 December 2020

Two Centre for the Study of Violence researchers have been successful in the highly competitive ARC discovery scheme.

Hans Lukas Kieser

A $158,991 grant will fund Associate Professor Hans-Lukas Kieser’s research into the foundation of the modern Middle East by investigating the still valid 1923 Peace Treaty of Lausanne, and Dr Elizabeth Roberts-Pedersen will collaborate in a $264,435 project that will allow researchers to investigate how the Australian military and its members have dealt with sex and sexuality through history.

Internationally renowned for his work on the Ottoman Empire, Associate Professor Hans-Lukas Kieser’s 2021-2023 project ‘The ‘Peace’ of Lausanne (1923): Genesis, Legacies, Paradoxes’, will examine the one of the most significant political challenges of the twenty-first century – peace in the Middle East.

Hans-Lukas says the crucial geopolitical event that laid the legal and diplomatic foundations for international relations in this region, and the international founding deed of the Republic of Turkey, was the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923).

“The final post-First World War treaty, it not only established peace in the Middle East after more than ten years of war, but shaped new post-Ottoman nation states with regard to boundaries, citizenship and autocratic political systems. It is still valid in its main regulations. But right from the start it was profoundly controversial, disputed by some, praised by others, the latter mostly Turkish-Kemalist and Western leaders,” he said.

This will be the first study to take a multi-level approach to the Lausanne Treaty complex, combining topics that were previously dealt with separately and taking into account diplomacy, law, state building, new peripheries and long aftermaths.

A new addition to the Centre, Dr Ümit Kurt will add to Hans-Lukas’s already prolific research on the Ottoman Empire. An historian of the modern Middle East, with a research focus on the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Ümit will join the Centre for the Study of Violence under a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). This is the sixth DECRA awarded to early career researchers in the School of Humanities and Social Science and the third hosted by the Centre for the Study of Violence.

CSOV Director, Philip Dwyer, says this is an important development for the Centre, especially in light of Australia’s ongoing political and strategic links with the Middle East.

“Ümit will build on Hans-Lukas’s expertise in the Armenian genocide to make us one of, if not the strongest concentrations in the country in Ottoman/Turkish history. It also builds on the Centre’s increasing international footprint and its links with other tertiary institutions around the world,” Philip said.

Dr Elizabeth Robert-Pedersen joined the Centre for the Study of Violence as a DECRA candidate in 2016 and has now been awarded her first Discovery Project funding for a project she is involved in led by the Australian Catholic University.

Elizabeth’s project ‘A Century of Sex and the Australian Military, 1914-2020’ will investigate the ways military authorities attempted to regulate members’ sexual behaviour, as well as how service personnel understood the role of sex and sexuality within a military framework.

“One obvious example is the efforts to combat venereal disease during both world wars. But questions about sex and sexuality intersect with other dramatic changes in the Australian military since 1914. We want to think about the ways military authorities encouraged and discouraged various kinds of intimate relationships, about the experience of servicewomen and LGBTQI service personnel, about sexual violence, about the way military medicine has responded to changes in reproductive medicine as well as public health crises such as HIV/AIDs, and about the relationship between sexuality and veteran mental health,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth’s role in the project will focus primarily on the medical aspects: how understandings of sexual health shift over time, and the relationships between civilian and military medicine.

The focus of this study will fill a gap in the history of how Australian military authorities have dealt with sex and sexuality.

“We began from the premise that while the ADF is seeking to change a damaging internal culture that includes reports of widespread sexual abuse, there was no encompassing study on the history of this area to refer to,” Elizabeth said. “Not knowing the full story, and not making the connections between, say, official policies towards venereal disease and the attitude of authorities towards service personnel visiting sex workers, or the way authorities responded to sexual violence committed in wartime, makes it harder to discern the origin of contemporary concerns.”

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