The Nikkei Australia Project Team and the Cowra City Council present

Internment Symposium: Civilian Internment in Australia during WW2: history, memories and community heritage

6- 9 March 2014  |  Civic Centre,  Cowra, NSW

Registration open soon!

This international symposium will be held during Cowra’s annual Festival of International Understanding (March 6-16, 2014) in Cowra, NSW. Participants will learn about civilian internment in Australia during WW2, a less well-known part of Australian history. It will be of interest to both researchers and non-researchers, as well as former internees and their families, who will share their life stories. Historians, creative writers, artists and members of the local community where internment camps were built will tell us how they have maintained and developed the legacy of the wartime camps as part of their community heritage. The organisers of this symposium hope it will expand our understanding of the consequences and legacy of internment inflicted upon all nationalities, and re-examine the impact of war and conflict to civilian population.  If you wish to participate in this symposium as a paper presenter, please see below.

The symposium attendees will also be able to experience:

  • Special talk by Professor Bill Gammage on his award-winning book the Biggest Estate on Earth, on March 6 (separate registration and fee required).
  • Community youth performances inspired by civilian internment experiences, facilitated by Mayu Kanamori with artists Alan Schacher, Weizen Ho and Jumaadi  (no registration required).
  • Photographic exhibition Ames Errantes (Wandering Spirit: The fate of an Okinawan emigrant in New Caledonia) by Mutsumi Tsuda at Cowra Japanese Gardens and Cultural Centre. It tells a story about a Japanese-Kanak family broken up by the war (included in the symposium registration).
  • Unveiling of an interpretive board and a special commemoration ceremony for the Japanese civilian internees buried at the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery (included in the symposium registration).

Registration fee for the symposium: $130 (to be confirmed)

Call for papers: We have limited spaces but welcome individual papers on any of the following areas of civilian internment in Australia during WW2. If you are interested in presenting a paper, please email an initial expression of interest with a tentative title and a 150-200 word description to the symposium conveners by 31 October, 2013.

Organisers are interested in papers on the following areas :
*       Stories of Internment experience in Australia during WW2
*       Life stories of former internees
*       Experiences of local communities where these internment camps were constructed
*       Stories told by Australian Military Personnel camp staff
*       Civilian internment in creative writing, visual art and performances

For further information about the symposium, contact symposium conveners:
Dr Yuriko Nagata,  The University of Queensland
Dr Keiko Tamura, The Australian National University



The Nikkei Australia Project Team

  • Dr Lorna Kaino, Sociologist, Edith Cowan University, WA
  • Ms Mayu Kanamori, Photographer, Artist, Researcher and Artist in residence, Macquarie University NSW.
  • Dr Yuriko Nagata, Historian, The University of Queensland
  • Dr Keiko Tamura, Historian, the Australian National University