CHL HDR Graduate Symposium: A Pioneering Success Story

7th October 2021

In September 2021, the first ever CHL Graduate Symposium was virtual but the connections made were real. This virtual symposium and digital space was a wonderful opportunity to learn about and engage with other HDR students in meaningful and exciting ways. The HDR delegates and organisers of this symposium, Matthew Adeleye, Talei Luscia Mangioni, and Michael Dunsford, wanted to host this forum as a way of bringing us together the HDR community from all over the world and building connections across our varied disciplines and life experiences. This year’s symposium themed “Tracing Lifeworlds” brought 18 HDR scholars from across Anthropology, Archaeology and Natural History, Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, Linguistics and Pacific and Asian History into conversation over four sessions throughout the day. In this article, we spotlight the work of three HDR scholars, Mamta Sachan Kumar (GMCS), Matthew Adeleye (Archaeology and Natural History) and Elena Williams (Anthropology) who were recognised during the session with prizes for their spectacular PhD work!


Mamta Sachan Kumar


“It is strange but somehow, I still remember the smell of Japanese strawberries at season’s peak. The sweet aroma teleports me with ease to when I was three and on excursion with my little mates at a strawberry farm in Kobe. Had I been wiser at the time, I would have plucked more than the measly two – half juiced in each grasp – to take home. Neither did I realize how much more I have carried with me in memory, nor just how powerful nostalgia could be. I was born in Kobe, Japan, and spent my childhood there before migrating to Singapore. For 14 years now, riding high on my longing for the past, I have nurtured an elaborate excuse to return to Japan – through researching my community: the Sindhi merchant diaspora. What began as a Master’s quest to uncover my father’s adventure from Delhi to Osaka, has evolved into a PhD mission to unravel my mother’s story as foreign bride in an alien country. As the communal history of the Sindhis slips beneath the greater, newer wave of Indian migrants in Japan, their stories have become my journey of self-discovery to document and share.”


Matthew Adeleye


“Using the Bass Strait islands as a case study, my PhD research focuses on the use of data generated from records of fossilized plant and non-plant remains to understand past links between changes in vegetation, climate, fire, and human land use in southeast Australia. My results also highlight what these past links mean for current and future ecosystem management in southeast Australia. For the Grad Symposium, I presented a slice of my thesis findings, which is focused on bushfire history. I have a BSc and MSc in botany and paleoecology from Nigeria and Canada, and my past research has spanned these countries.”


Elena Williams


“I am a higher education consultant and PhD candidate in Anthropology. My research examines the impact of student mobility and DFAT-funded higher education programs on Australia-Indonesia relationship building. Between 2013 and 2017, I served as the Indonesia-based Resident Director for The Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS), and since then I have held roles with The University of Melbourne, The Victorian Department of Education and AFS Australia advising on learning abroad in Indonesia. I hold a Masters of Applied Anthropology & Participatory Development (Gender Studies) from The ANU, BA Honours in Indonesian Studies from The University of Sydney, and a BA Communications and International Studies (Indonesian) from The University of Technology Sydney. I currently serve on the boards of DFAT’s Australia-Indonesia Institute and Balai Bahasa NSW, and a panel member for The Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program and The Australia Awards Indonesia’s selection committees.”


Congratulations to all of the PhD scholars who presented at the symposium: Geoff Piggott, Talei Luscia Mangioni, Mamta Sachan Kumar, Aileen Marwung Walsh, Salvatore Simarmata, Elena Williams, Yi Jia Poh, Hendri Kaharudin, Matthew Adeleye, Christina Sanderson, Lisa Hilli, Hipolitus Wangge, Brooke Eason, Bruma Rios Mendoza, Jenny M’bern Homerang, Elvin Xing, Saidalavi PC, Ayesha Chaudhry and Michael Dunsford.

Thank you also to Uncle Wally Bell, Traditional Custodian of Ngunawal Country for the fantastic Welcome To Country and also Eva Nisa for her wonderful keynote.

Finally, thank you to the Director of CHL, Simon Haberle, Deputy Director of HDR, Katerina Teaiwa and HDR Coordinator, Etsuko Mason for all of your ongoing support. The CHL HDR delegates, Matthew Adeleye, Talei Luscia Mangioni and Michael Dunsford hope to make this symposium a more regular event in the future, as well as host more HDR community events!

By Talei Luscia Mangioni

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster