Before the Astonished Gaze of Chooks: J.G. Crawford and a View of the World through Agriculture

School of History Seminar Series

Before the Astonished Gaze of Chooks: J.G. Crawford and a View of the World through Agriculture

Speaker: Nicholas Brown, School of History, ANU

The politics, economics, culture and myths of agriculture have played a vital part in Australian development, in the ways in which that development has been related to the dynamics of world markets and relationships, and in domains of international activity that have sought to raise such questions of development above national interests and into terms of human, and environmental, rights and security. In a long and diverse career, Sir John Crawford (1910–1984) contributed significantly to each of these levels of activity. Through them he became, Ross Garnaut suggests, ‘the best remembered Australian economist in the international community’. This paper – an early instalment of a larger, multi-authored biographical study – will survey some of the ways in which those contributions reflected significant transitions both in the diverse issues that agriculture framed and in the policy, research, advocacy and personal skills that were required to adjust to those issues. It will begin to test the ways in which an analysis of Crawford’s life and influence might illuminate a period of policy formation and practice in which concepts of ‘growth’ and ‘aid’ laid foundations for transformational Australian engagement with the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Nicholas Brown is a professor in the School of History, Australian National University, and has written in the areas of biography and environmental, social and political history. His most recent books are A History of Canberra (CUP, 2014) and, with Susan Boden, A Way Through: the life of Rick Farley (NewSouth, 2012).


Date & time

Wed 11 Mar 2015, 4.15–5.30pm


McDonald Room, Menzies Library

Event series


School of History


Updated:  20 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications