Please join us for a fascinating in-conversation with Christine Helliwell, author of Semut, and Professor Garth Pratten.
Semut is the remarkable new book about Operation Semut, an Australian secret military operation launched by the organisation popularly known as Z Special Unit in the final months of WWII.
Christine Helliwell is an anthropologist and author, currently Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. She has been carrying out ethnographic research on Borneo’s indigenous Dayak peoples for almost forty years and has published widely on Dayak social and cultural life. Since 2014 she has been researching WWII in Borneo, and has travelled extensively throughout Sarawak, in the north of the island, interviewing elderly people – especially Dayaks – who still remember the war. She has a particular interest in the special operations conducted in Borneo by the Australian secret organisation codenamed Services Reconnaissance Department, popularly known as Z Special Unit, and in 2016 was instrumental in organising a ceremony to honour the organisation’s members at the Australian War Memorial. In 2018 she co-curated an exhibition at the Memorial on SRD/Z Special Unit operations in Borneo.
About the Moderator
Associate Professor Garth Pratten is the Deputy Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. His career as a military historian has seen him practice his craft at a variety of organisations including the Australian Army’s Training Command, the Australian War Memorial, and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The Borneo operations of 1945 have been an interest of Garth’s for many years, which has led him to traverse the former battlefields of Tarakan, Balikpapan, Brunei, Labuan and Sarawak. His field study course based on these adventures was awarded a ANU Vice Chancellors Citation for Excellence in Teaching in 2018.
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