Worlds of Water: Historical perspectives on rivers, oceans and cross-cultural exchange

landscape with land and water
Courtesy of the State Library of South

As record droughts and floods defy both expectation and experience around the world, we take this opportunity to engage in a cross-disciplinary conversation about waters, either fresh or salt, and too much or too little. In this Seminar, design and humanities researchers working across the College of Arts and Social Sciences at The Australian National University reflect on the ways their work centres the material and cultural significance of water in the past and present. Together, we consider different scholarly approaches to engaging with water and cross-cultural exchange, and the implications of our storytelling for imagining human and nonhuman worlds of water.

About the panel

Rohan Howitt is the Centre for Environmental History’s inaugural Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Convenor of the Centre’s seminar programs, Dr Howitt is a historian of Australian ideas about Antarctica and is current research studies the global history of the Southern Ocean world.

Ruth A. Morgan is Director of the Centre for Environmental History, working collaboratively on projects centred on biotic and cultural exchanges across the Indian Ocean and the Murray-Darling Basin. She is the co-author of Cities in a Sunburnt Country: Water and the Making of Urban Australia (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Romney David Smith is a historian of the medieval Mediterranean world in the School of History. Focusing on the period between 900 and 1100 CE, he has published his research on trade and slavery in the Journal of Medieval History and Past & Present.

Mitchell Whitelaw is Professor of Design in the School of Art and Design with interests in digital design and culture, data practices, and digital collections. His current research investigates environmental and biodiversity visualisation, and digital design for a more-than-human world.

Join Zoom Meeting  

Meeting ID: 891 5045 3744  Password: 037308 

Date & time

Wed 10 Aug 2022, 4.15–5.30pm


RSSS Auditorium, Ground Floor (Level 1), RSSS Building, ANU, 146 Ellery Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601, and Online


Rohan Howitt
Ruth A. Morgan
Romney David Smith
Mitchell Whitelaw


School of History


Filip Slaveski


Updated:  8 August 2022/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications