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Ruth Balint

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Dr Ruth Balint
School of Humanities and Languages University of NSW
Sydney, Australia

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Telephone: 61 2 9385 8278


I am a senior lecturer in History, in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of NSW, and the convener of Australian Studies. My writing and documentaries have addressed transnational histories of immigration, borders, documentary film, and contemporary Australian history. I am the author of Troubled Waters: Borders, Boundaries and Possession in the Timor Sea (Allen and Unwin, 2005). My film and radio documentaries include Troubled Waters for SBS Television and The Unknown Man for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Research interests

I am currently researching a new project exploring the history of Europe's Displaced Persons and the practice of Australian immigration in Occupied Europe. This project uses new evidence to examine the construction of the displaced self in Occupied Europe and Australia’s contribution to the discourses of legitimacy and eligibility that defined the postwar DP. I am primarily interested in the DP as both eligible refugee and as eligible future migrant, at a moment of enormous change in international politics and Australian history. The central focus of this research project is the stories DPs told about themselves to the authorities charged with deciding their fate, in the context of World War Two’s aftermath, the deepening Cold War, and the “muscle building” missions of the West.
I am also currently involved in a research partnership with the Australian Red Cross International Tracing Service. After World War Two, 180,00 DPs came to Australia. The focus of this research is this postwar period of DP immigration, when the Australian Red Cross tracing service entered its modern phase of international tracing. The tracing files contain the microhistories of thousands of ordinary individuals dispersed by war and conflict and for the historian of this period are a remarkable and rich source of evidence of the experience of war, displacement and migration.

DP related publications

  • "Industry and sunshine: Australia as home in the displaced persons camps of postwar Europe", History Australia, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2014: Forthcoming.
  • "The Case of Károly Zentai: Displaced Persons and War Crimes in Australia and Hungary", in Colin Tatz (ed), Genocide Perspectives IV: Essays on Holocaust and Genocide, University of Technology Press, Sydney, 2012: 272-311.
  • "The Ties that Bind: Australia, Hungary and the Case of Károly Zentai", Patterns of Prejudice, Vol 44, No. 3, July 2010: 281-303.

Other publications

  • Troubled Waters: Borders, Boundaries and Possession in the Timor Sea, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2005.
  • Aboriginal Women and Asian Men: a maritime history of 'color' in white Australia, Signs: Journal of Women and Culture in Society, 37:3, Spring 2012: 544-554.
  • The Yellow Sea, in Agnieszka Sobocinska and David Walker (eds), Australia’s Asia: From yellow peril to Asian century, UWA Press, Perth, 2012: 345-365.
  • Soft Histories: Making history on Australian television, History Australia, 2011: 175-195.
  • The Somerton Man: An unsolved history, Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 16, No. 2,
    September 2010: 159-178.
  • The Somerton Man: A documentary fiction in three dimensions, in Marion Herz, Jan-Philip
    Mueller (eds), Goofy History: Fehler Machen Geschichte, Butis Butis (eds), Berlin,
    September, 2009: 264-279.
  • Mare Nullius and the Making of a White Ocean Policy, in Suvendrini Perera (ed), Our
    Patch. Enacting Australian Sovereignty Post-2001, Network Books, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, 2007: 87-104.