Retrieving Hemisphere – An Asian-Australian Monthly (later Magazine bimonthly) – 1957-84

Retrieving Hemisphere – An Asian-Australian Monthly (later Magazine bimonthly) – 1957-84

Steps are underway to enable the digitising of an important general interest Australian periodical from last century:  Hemisphere – An Asian-Australian Monthly, (later Magazine (bimonthly), which was published by and for the Commonwealth of Australia from 1957-84.  Some ASAA members may remember the periodical, which was edited by two outstanding editors, RJ Maguire (1957-1969) and then Kenneth Russell Henderson (1969-1984). Amongst contributors to the periodical with interests in Asian studies were: Joyce Ackroyd,  Achdiat K Mihardja, Harry Aveling, AL Basham, James Fox, Wang Gungwu, Robin Jeffrey, AH Johns, Margaret Kartomi, Colin Mackerras, Campbell Macknight, Achdiat K Mihardja, Douglas Miles, Anthony Reid, SAA Rizvi and Peter Worsley, to name a few.

A loose grouping of persons with interests in Asian studies – including some of those mentioned above – as well as others with a focus on Australian literature, society and environmental history have followed with interest these developments. Funds have now been raised through donation to enable the National Library of Australia to proceed with the project so that eventually, through TROVE, new generations might also be able to access the material that was originally produced in print.


Originating out of the Colombo Plan era and its imperatives the series was unique compared to other Australian general interest periodicals of the mid-twentieth century: perhaps only ‘Hemisphere’ combined ‘Australian’ and ‘Asian’ material in its remit. It explored the ‘deep cultures’ embedded in these two terms. It moved focus beyond the sole imperative of defining ‘Australia’ to having a vision of the region beyond. (It was also probably unique in that although it began publication by and for the then-small Commonwealth Office of Education in North Sydney, it was published from Canberra for most of its publication life). it was not ‘controversial’ in dealing with Australian foreign policy and political issues of the day, such as the  Vietnam War, and from current perspectives it lacked an Indigenous Australian autonomous focus, although via articles on Australian ‘prehistory’, it was a significant publication that conveyed to the general reader scientific work of the era that helped push back in time broader awareness of Indigenous settlement in Australia to beyond 60,00 years.

I trust this advice will be of some interest and that this important project will provide new generations with past perspectives on Australia and the region generally. Further research is underway to explore the life and times of the two remarkable editors of the periodical, RJ Maguire and Kenneth Russell Henderson. The former was also the English translator of Achdiat K Miharja’s pioneering novel, Atheis, which appeared as the first publication (1972) in the UQ Press Asian and Pacific Writing series. Kenneth Russell Henderson, a journalist and broadcaster, inter alia set up the ABC office in Jakarta as the first resident ABC journalist in Indonesia (1959-62). We would welcome any additional information or recollections by any ASAA members or friends, particularly at this stage regarding the first editor, RJ Maguire.

Ian Campbell and Campbell Macknight

(Sydney and Canberra)

8 June 2022

Dr Elly Kent is the editor of the ASAA's blog, Asian Currents and the ANU's Southeast Asia blog, New Mandala. She has worked as a researcher, writer, translator, artist, teacher and intercultural professional over 20 years in academia and the arts in Indonesia and Australia. Elly gained a double degree in Asian Studies (Specialist Indonesia) and Visual Arts (Hons) and a PhD in the same fields from the Australian National University. She is the author of Artists and the People: Ideologies of Indonesian Art (2022) NUS Press, and co-editor (with Virginia Hooker and Caroline Turner) of Living Art: Indonesian Artists Engage Politics, Society and History (2022) ANU Press.

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