Robin Jeffrey

Life membership: Robin Jeffrey

Life membership awarded to Robin Jeffrey

Robin Jeffrey is Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University and La Trobe University. He is also an honorary fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore

Robin is former Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. He taught at La Trobe University, Melbourne from 1979 and was Professor of Politics at La Trobe from 1993-2005. While at La Trobe, Robin convened one of the ASAA’s largest Biennial Conferences in 1996, ‘‘Communications with/in Asia’’, with over 700 participants. The conference marked the 20th anniversary of the ASAA.

His special interest is India and South Asia, particularly the regions of Punjab and Kerala and the politics of media, development and pluralism. His most recent book, co-authored with Assa Doron, Waste of a Nation: Garbage and Growth in India won the ASAA’s inaugural Reid Prize for the most significant book contributing to the understanding of Asia in 2022.

He was the coordinator and leading author of the report, “Maximizing Australia’s Asia Knowledge“, published in 2002. Following its release, he was president of the Asian Studies Association of Australia from 2003-04 in which he led significant interactions with university leaders, media and government in raising awareness of the report’s key findings.

During his Presidency, Robin was active in ensuring the smooth operations of the ASAA with attention to administrative detail as well as charting strategies for the future of Asian Studies in Australia. He also applied a keen eye to preserving the history of the ASAA and recognising its key figures and events. Robin instituted the ‘life membership’ category that we now bestow upon him. His generous and wise mentoring for those coming afterwards has benefited many in the Asian Studies field in both Australia and Asia.

Former colleague Professor Kaori Okano of La Trobe, who taught with Robin some years ago, noted “Robin was a truly inspirational, passionate and engaging Asian Studies educator. I saw how much students respected and genuinely liked Robin, while teaching with him in first year Asian Studies subjects at La Trobe.”

He reflected on 20 years of Asian Studies in Australia since then in a recent Asian Currents blog post.

Robin is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of the Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. In 2022, he received the South Asia Studies Association of Australia Distinguished Long-term Contribution Award.

A message of congratulations to Robin from the community, organised by ASAA councillor Dr Nisha Thapliyal,  from Dr Vaibhav Gaikwad: “Firstly, congratulations on this very well deserved recognition by the ASAA. I would like to thank you Robin for being such an important and knowledgeable source of guidance in my life. Very rarely does one come cross people who are both brilliant and humble. You embody these qualities in everything you do. Whether it is for your insights at the Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti panel discussion in Canberra, the vital role your have played in connecting me with Anish and his team at Ashaya – who now convert soft plastics into eye gear, or your blessings for my little bub Tanish- there are so many things that I will remain grateful to you for. Thank you again for everything and wish you all the best”.

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