Professor Terry Irving delivering a lecture.

Radical historian elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

Radical historian elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

Honorary Professorial Fellow Terry Irving recognised for his distinguished contributions to the field

Professor Terry Irving, an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the University of Wollongong’s School of
Humanities and Social Inquiry
, has been elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social
Sciences in Australia (ASSA).

The Academy brings together over 700 of Australia’s leading researchers and professionals
across the social science disciplines. Fellows are elected by their peers based on a sustained
and internationally distinguished contribution to their field.

“It’s an honour to have been elected to the Academy of the Social Sciences by my peers,” Professor Irving said.

“I’m particularly pleased that it has happened while attached to the University of Wollongong, because the election draws attention to my recent research on the history of democracy, much of it carried out during that honorary attachment and with the encouragement of Wollongong colleagues.”

A radical historian, author and educator, Professor Irving has a long and distinguished career as an academic. 

He was one of the founders of the Free University in Sydney in the late 1960s, an activist in the movement to democratise universities in the 1970s, a prominent New Left contributor to the writing of Australian history in the 1980s, and the editor of Labour History – A Journal of Labour and Social History in the 1990s.

From the 1960s he taught in universities in Australia and the United States. He writes on colonial workers’ movements, Australia’s class structure, youth movements and youth policy, labour intellectuals, and radical democracy.

He has written eleven books, including The Fatal Lure of Politics: The Life and Thought of Vere Gordon ChildeClass Structure in Australian History (with Raewyn Connell) and Radical Sydney (with Rowan Cahill).

In his most recent book, The Barber Who Read History: Essays in Radical History (Bull Ant Press, 2021), Professor Irving and his co-author Dr Rowan Cahill (a UOW Honorary Fellow) criticise mainstream history for its top-down certainties and instead see history from the bottom-up, acknowledging the productivity and creativity of working people. They argue for a radical history that reveals uncertainties and challenges, leaving everything, including the future, open.

Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia President Professor Richard Holden described Academy Felllows as architects of progress and visionaries of social science.

“The election of these individuals as Fellows of the Academy exemplifies the exceptional calibre of research and scholarship within the social sciences,” Professor Holden said.

“Their work is not only academically significant, but also holds immense practical relevance for shaping policies, improving communities and advancing our understanding of complex societal challenges.”