Professor Desmond Manderson FAAL, FASSA, FRSC has been elected a fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, recognising his research across interdisciplinary studies in law, the humanities, and the social sciences.
A professor at The Australian National University’s (ANU) College of Law and College of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Manderson is also co-director of the Centre for Law, Arts and the Humanities.
Professor Manderson, who has been welcomed by the Academy alongside 36 other experts from across the social sciences, was recognised for his interdisciplinary research of a wide variety of fields including drug policy, music history, children’s literature, popular culture, animals, the “war on terror”, tort law, refugees, and Indigenous peoples.
His early research about the history of drugs and relevant laws in Australia highlighted the importance of adopting a “broad canvas” to understand the role and meaning of law, he said.
“When I first started doing this research in law a long time ago, I was interested in the history of drugs in Australia and the history of drug laws. I soon realised you couldn’t understand why we have the laws we do and what effects they have on the world without casting a much wider net and looking at the whole social history of drugs, including immigration movements, social forces, political changes, globalisation but also films, literature, novels, paintings – all of those things help us understand why laws are shaped in a certain way and what effects they have in the world,” he said.
Professor Manderson’s current research interests include work on the history, theories, and practices of the rule of law, and the relationship between art and concepts of law and justice, both historically and in contemporary Australia.
The social sciences offer Australians “a very wide understanding of who we are, where we’ve come from and where we might be going”, he said, adding he was honoured to be recognised for his contribution as a social scientist.
“To be elected to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia is a great privilege because it comes from my peers: senior researchers across all the social sciences in Australia. It’s very exciting for me to get that affirmation my work has been important, not just in law but in other disciplines – to history, philosophy, political theory, social theory and so on,” he said.
“At this point in our social and political history, faced with the current kinds of urgent challenges, we have never had more need for the social sciences in Australia.”
In addition to Professor Manderson, two other ANU scholars were elected to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia this year: Professor Robert Costanza, Professor and Vice Chancellor’s Chair in Public Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific; and Emeritus Professor Christopher Gregory, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.