Dr Zhu is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. He is an anthropologist whose research focuses on cultural politics of the past through heritage, tourism and museum spaces. As Dr Zhu explains, he is, “particularly interested in why the past matters to our present and how that shapes current practices, policies, identity and the relationship between the state and society.”
It is a political, contentious and contemporary issue around the world. Just earlier this year, on 11 February, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong spoke at King’s College in London, calling on the UK to confront its colonial past and acknowledge Australia had not listened to the Pacific adequately. As SBS News reported, “she said understanding the past brought with it the opportunity to find more common ground than if, "we stayed sheltered in narrower versions of our countries' histories." Adding to the conversation, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles commented on ABC TV, “It's really important for all countries to think about their past in terms of that providing a gateway for meaningful engagement in the future."
Dr Zhu will dig deep into various intersections of heritage, memory, and politics, and examine the relationship between our remote past and recent past. Both play important but different role in identity making. Nurturing an understanding of the remote past, “which is about us voicing our ancestor’s heritage. Different from the remote past, the recent past, “is about us voicing our own memory. “Recent history often shapes a country such as development, colonialism or war.”
After examining these different aspects of memory Dr Zhu will analyse how certain memories are represented in different spaces. The research will look at traditional memory institutions, such as museums, 'which often shape official narrative about the past and our relationship with the past.” The research will also examine alternative forms of memory practices, such as oral history, documentaries or exhibitions which are "more temporal, flexible, and local paths of framing memory."
And as the leaves turn and the days shorten, Dr Zhu is ready to rake in as much research as possible.