Professor Graeme Hugo (Australia-International Medal) Citation

Conferred Melbourne, July 2014

Graeme Hugo Nomination by John Connell for Australia-International Medal

Graeme Hugo began academic life with a BA at the University of Adelaide and an MA at Flinders, followed by a PhD at ANU after which he returned for ever to Adelaide, where he is now ARC Australian Professorial Fellow in the Discipline of Geography, Environment and Population, and Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University of Adelaide. That might seem to be a local small-scale geographical world, but nothing could be further from the truth. Surely no Australian geographer is more mobile than Graeme and that is entirely in keeping with an academic lifetime spent studying migration, mobility and development in Australia and South-East Asia. Indeed Graeme has long taken that mobility into personal realms as his forays into distance running demonstrate.

Graeme is one of the most distinguished and dedicated geographers that Australia has produced and he is almost certainly the most productive. His main research areas cover a smorgasbord of activities centered on international migration, its changing patterns and causes and the implications for social and economic change, especially in Asia and Australia. That has necessarily extended into thinking about development in south-east Asia, the implications of migration into Australia and therefore most recently the significance, role and contribution of refugees in a multicultural Australia.

Thus far Graeme has produced 32 books (and it goes without saying that others are in press), 189 refereed articles (and more must be on the way) and 257 book chapters. Then there are the 3 theses, 43 monographs and 89 working papers. After that there is a niggardly 1011 conference papers (some 25 per year between 1975 and 2014). And that excludes the 20 plenary addresses, 120 assorted reports and 34 book reviews. These numbers are merely temporary; it is impossible to imagine the flow suddenly drying up, when Graeme has so many insights still to impart, and so many requests for him to impart them. That is what the conference papers mean. All that has been supported through a myriad of grants.

Some might suggest that quantity must erase quality. Here that is demonstrably untrue and apparent in the citation counts that Graeme has accumulated. His work with Douglas Massey on international migration and migration theory – a seminal book and article – have received 1890 and 2790 citations respectively. Numerous other publications have passed the century mark. More to the point, because of Graeme’s work we now have a much more sophisticated understanding of the theory and practice of migration in the Asia-Pacific region, and Australian geography is itself more cosmopolitan in outlook. He is not just an expert on population migration in the Asia-Pacific region: quite genuinely, he is the expert. He is revered in Australian and Asian population studies. It is impossible to go to a meeting in Asia on a related issue without being confronted by someone disappointed that Graeme is not there (in itself unusual!) and then remarking on what a great scholar he is and how his inputs and insights are invaluable. In other words he is highly respected in Asia and beyond.

Beyond the extraordinary intellectual output that graces some of the finest global journals, and has been cited many times, Graeme is therefore an activist, who is concerned with the development of equitable migration policies and the rights of migrants and refugees. He is no mere scholar – quietly piling up papers and books - but is committed to developing appropriate population and development policies that link in different ways the destinies of Australia and Asian nations, and contribute to building positive relationships between them.

That quiet and so often self-effacing activism is evident in Graeme’s involvement with an enormous number of bodies in population studies and geography, both academic (such as the IUSSP and APA) and professional/practical (such as the Ministerial Advisory Board for the Ageing, of the South Australian Government, and the Irregular Migration Advisory Group of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship). He has given very valuable service to Geography through being Chair of the ARC’s Expert Advisory Committee on the Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences between 2000-2004, and in a host of other ways. He has reviewed Geography Departments (and related organisations), been seconded to others in Asia and America, and at different times worked for such UN organisations as ESCAP, UNFPA and ILO, and in Indonesia for the Ministry of Population and Environment and the Central Planning Agency.

Graeme is renowned for his willingness to pitch in, when others of similar rank would decline, for example in refereeing papers for Australian (and other) geography journals (he has refereed for no less than 53 different journals), for not just teaching First Year but marking their exam papers and assignments, for refereeing grant applications etc. He has supervised 32 Honours theses, 22 Masters theses and 36 PhD theses – some 20 Masters and PhDs are ongoing. He has still found time to be a valuable and judicious marker for 30 Masters and PhD theses from elsewhere. And more are to come ... All of this has been done quietly – fitted in dutifully and carefully between the more stellar activities.

It is impossible to think of an Australian geographer who is better known in the real world beyond the ivory towers, and who has made such a contribution to it. Indeed he is one of the few geographers to have been formally recognised outside the discipline. In 2012 he became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) ‘for distinguished service to population research, particularly the study of international migration, population geography and mobility, and through leadership roles with national and international organisations’. It is now time for similar recognition to be awarded from within the discipline.

In short he has been an exemplary and thoroughly dedicated geographical citizen of Australia and the Asian world and will be a thoroughly worthy recipient of the Australia-International Medal. His entire academic and practical career has been dedicated to making, and succeeding in making, ‘outstanding contributions to the advancement of Geography world-wide’.

John Connell 19 March 2014.

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