Dr Ruth Balint

Senior Lecturer, History
PhD (University of Sydney) 2004.
School of Humanities & Languages


9385 8278
345 Morven Brown
Fields: Historical Studies

I teach and write on transnational histories of migration, displacement, refugees and family, with a current focus on the Displaced Persons of postwar Europe. I am fascinated in particular with the stories told by DPs themselves about their journeys of wartime displacement to the Allies and how this in turn contributed to the development of the modern humanitarian and legal idea of the refugee. I am completing a book about the 'hard core', those DPs who were not immediately acceptable to western resettlement programs. I have written previously on the history of children disabled by war or birth, whose families were broken apart by the postwar immigration policies of western nations. See, for example, 'Children Left Behind: Families, Refugees and Immigration in Postwar Europe', History Workshop Journal 2016, http://hwj.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/08/11/hwj.dbw021.full.pdf?keytype=ref&ijkey=CPIz2ylUF4DOOKM

I also hold an ARC Discovery grant together with Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick from the University of Sydney and Dr Jayne Persian at the University of Southern Queensland, and our joint project is entitled “Displacement and Resettlement: Russian and Russian-speaking Jewish Displaced Persons arriving in Australia via the ”China” Route in the Wake of the Second World War”.

My background as a filmmaker has also led me to become increasingly interested in the importance of making Australian history in accessible and creative ways. In 2014 my radio documentary 'The Somerton Man: A Mystery in Four Acts' aired on Radio National's Hindsight program, and I am currently researching a documentary film project exploring the story of my grandmother, who came to Australia as a Jewish refugee. This has been commissioned by ABC Radio National in 2018 and will appear broadcast in The History Listen program slot.



    • Balint R, 2005, Troubled waters: borders, boundaries and possession in the Timor Sea, 1, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW

    Book Chapters

    • Balint R, 2015, 'The Use and Abuse of History: Displaced Persons in the ITS Archive', in Boehling R; Urban S; Anthony E; Brown-Fleming S (ed.), Freilegungen Spiegelungen der NS-Verfolgung und ihrer Konsequenzen, edn. Jahrbuch des International Tracing Service, Wallstein Verlag, Gottingen, pp. 173 - 188
    • Balint R, 2014, 'Representing the Past and the Meaning of Home in Péter Forgács's Private Hungary', in Young G; Monahan B (ed.), Amateur Filmmaking : the home movie, the Archive, the Web., edn. Original, Bloomsbury Academic, Oxford, England, pp. 193 - 206, http://www.bloomsbury.com/au/amateur-filmmaking-9781441191496/
    • Balint R, 2012, 'The War Crimes Case of Karoly Zentai and the Quest for Historical Justice', in Tatz C (ed.), Genocide Perspectives IV; Essays on Holocaust and Genocide, edn. Original, UTSePress, Sydney, pp. 272 - 311, http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/research/bitstream/handle/10453/19824/GenocidePerspectivesIV_Tatz.pdf?sequence=1
    • Balint R, 2012, 'The Yellow Sea', in Walker D; Sobocinka A (ed.), Australia's Asia: From Yellow Peril to Asian Century, edn. Original, UWA Publishing, Perth, WA, pp. 345 - 366
    • Balint R, 2009, 'Der »Somerton Man«: Eine dokumentarische Fiktion in drei Dimensionen', in Butis Butis (ed.), Goofy History: Fehler Machen Geschichte, edn. 1, Bohlau, Weimar, pp. 264 - 279
    • Balint R, 2007, 'Mare Nullius and the Making of a White Ocean Policy', in Perera S (ed.), Our Patch: Enacting Australian Sovereignty Power after 9/11, edn. First, Network Books, Perth, pp. 87 - 105

    Journal articles

    Conference Papers

    • Balint R, 2009, 'Australia Gets Lost and Goes Missing: Baz's Tourism Australia ad', http://www.nma.gov.au/research/baz_luhrmanns_australia_reviewed/speakers_and_program/, National Museum of Australia, National Museum of Australia, 07 - 08 December 2009

    Conference Presentations

    • Balint R, 2009, 'The Somerton Man Mystery and the Unsolved Case of History', presented at Scandals, Crime and Corruption, State Library of NSW, 09 September 2009
    • Balint R, 2008, 'The Water Hemisphere: Australia and its exilic sea', presented at Graduate School Mediale Historiographien, Bauhaus Universität, Weimar, Germany, 19 June 2008
    • Balint R, 2007, 'Mare Nullius and a White Ocean Policy', presented at Indian Association for the Study of Australia Annual Conference, Pune India, 01 January 2007
    • Balint R, 2006, 'Sweeping the Seas Clean: A White Ocean policy in Australia's north', presented at Historicising Whiteness, University of Melbourne, 22 - 24 November 2006
    • Balint R, 2005, 'Seascape and Memory in the Australian Psyche', presented at EASA conference: ReVisions of Australia: Histories, Images, Identity, Debrecen, Hungary, 20 - 24 September 2005

    Creative Written Works

    • Balint R, 2012, Small Fry: The Story of a People Smuggler, The Monthly, Schwartz Publishing
    • Balint R, 2009, Where are the Historians?, Inside Story: Current Affairs and Culture, Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, and Australian National University
    • Balint R, 2009, Australia, Hungary and the Case of Karoly Zentai, Inside Story: Current Affairs and Culture, Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, and Australian National University

    Recorded / Rendered Creative Works

    • Balint R, 2019, Cooking for Assimilation, ABC Radio National, Radio, Duration: 30 minutes
    • Balint R, 2015, Radio Program, ABC Radio National - The Somerton Man: A Mystery in Four Acts., ABC Radio National, Radio, Duration: 45 minutes
    • Balint R, 2013, The Pearling Families of Broome - a two part documentary series, ABC Radio National, Radio National, Editor(s): ABC
    • Balint R, 2003, The Death of Mansur, SBS Television, Sydney, Video
    • Balint R, 2001, Troubled Waters, Resonance Production, Sydney, Video

    Creative Works (non-textual)

    • Balint R;Balint, 2014, The Somerton Man: A Mystery in Four Acts, n/a, ABC Radio National, 23 - 23 February 2014

Teaching and Supervision

ARTS2271: Australia 1901-2008: From Federation to the Apology.

ARTS3289: Documentary Film and History.

ARTS3292: Migrants and Refugees in Australian History.

ARTS1190 Australian Legends.

Honours and prizes

The Ernst Keller European Fellowship, Australian Academy of the Humanities, 2011.

The National Film and Sound Archive, Scholar-In-Residence, 2010.

The Centre for Media and History (Mediale Historiographien), Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany, 1 March, 2008 – 30 June, 2008.

The Centre for Pasts Inc, Historical Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 1 July, 2008 – 1 November, 2008.

Australian Vogel Literary Award 2004

Dendy Documentary Award 2002

Engagement and Professional contributions

Australian Historical Association

Australian Feminist History Group

Australian Studies Research Network

Related links

Related news

Other information

I am currently supervising three PhD students who are working in the areas of twentieth century Australian and transnational history.

I welcome supervising Doctoral students interested in the areas of twentieth century Australian history: transnational histories (Australia : Central and Eastern Europe); migration history in the twentieth century; documentary film and history; and, maritime history.

Honours students successfully supervised to graduation
I have successfully supervised 9 Honours projects to completion in the field of twentieth century Australian history, two of which received the School award for the quality of their theses.