Professor Ruth Balint

Professor Ruth Balint


PhD (University of Sydney) 2004.

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of Humanities & Languages

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 currently lead two Australian Research Council - funded projects: Russian Immigrants and Anti-Communism in Cold War Australia, 1946-1966, and The Holocaust as an Australian Story, 1933-1954: An Intimate History.

My recent book Destination Elsewhere: Displaced Persons and their Quest to Leave Postwar Europe is published with Cornell University Press (November 2021) It explores the encounters of refugees with the international aid agencies, western migration agents and Allied forces on European soil during the war's aftermath, and the struggle to redefine refugees as migrants to the West. I have also written extensively on the impact of immigration policies on the displaced family, and on women and children.

My other main interest is in Australian migration history. My co-authored book with Julie Kalman, Smuggled: An Illegal History of Journeys to Australia (NewSouth Publishing, 2021), explores the histories of refugees and their people smugglers since the Holocaust: 

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 2019, my radio documentary 'Cooking for Assimilation' aired on ABC Radio National's Hindsight program: It is about the migration of my grandmother as a Jewish refugee to Australia, and more broadly, about the expectations and challenges women migrants faced in postwar Australia.

I am a co-convenor of the UNSW Forced Migration Research Network. 

+61 2 9385 827
345 Morven Brown
  • Books | 2021
    Balint R; Kalman J, 2021, Smuggled: An Illegal History of Journeys to Australia, NewSouth Publishing, Sydney
    Books | 2021
    Balint R, 2021, Destination Elsewhere: Displaced Persons and their Quest to Leave Postwar Europe After 1945, Cornell University Press, New York
    Books | 2005
    Balint R, 2005, Troubled waters: borders, boundaries and possession in the Timor Sea, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW
  • Book Chapters | 2015
    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, Wallstein Verlag, Gottingen, pp. 173 - 188
    Book Chapters | 2014
    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., Bloomsbury Academic, Oxford, England, pp. 193 - 206,
    Book Chapters | 2012
    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, UTSePress, Sydney, pp. 272 - 311,
    Book Chapters | 2012
    Balint R, 2012, 'The Yellow Sea', in Walker D; Sobocinka A (ed.), Australia's Asia: From Yellow Peril to Asian Century, UWA Publishing, Perth, WA, pp. 345 - 366
    Book Chapters | 2009
    Balint R, 2009, 'Der »Somerton Man«: Eine dokumentarische Fiktion in drei Dimensionen', in Butis Butis (ed.), Goofy History: Fehler Machen Geschichte, Bohlau, Weimar, pp. 264 - 279
    Book Chapters | 2007
    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, Network Books, Perth, pp. 87 - 105
  • Edited Books | 2023
    Balint R; Damousi J; Fitzpatrick S, (eds.), 2023, When Migrants Fail to Stay: New Histories on Departure and Migration, Bloomsbury Publishing, London,
  • Journal articles | 2023
    Balint R, 2023, 'Margaret Taft delves into the lives of two remarkable Australian Jews Leo and Mina Fink: For the Greater Good , by Margaret Taft, Clayton, Monash University Publishing, 2022, 240 pp., $AU34.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781922464866, Publisher’s website:', History Australia, 20, pp. 182 - 183,
    Journal articles | 2019
    Balint R, 2019, 'Before Australia: Historicising Russian Migration via China after World War II', Australian Historical Studies, 50, pp. 3 - 20,
    Journal articles | 2019
    Balint R, 2019, 'My grandmother's cookbook: a personal history of migration', Journal of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, 24, pp. 486 - 500
    Journal articles | 2018
    Alba A; Balint R; Lanicek J, 2018, 'Holocaust Education at Australian Universities in the Twenty-first Century: Challenges and Opportunities', Australian Humanities Review, pp. 131 - 133,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Balint R; Simic Z, 2018, 'Histories of Migrants and Refugees in Australia', Australian Historical Studies, 49,
    Journal articles | 2017
    Balint R, 2017, 'Alexander and Anastayzia: the separation and search for family among Europe’s displaced', The History of the Family, 22,
    Journal articles | 2016
    Balint R, 2016, 'Children left behind: Family, refugees and immigration in postwar Europe', History Workshop Journal, 82, pp. 151 - 172,
    Journal articles | 2015
    Balint R, 2015, ''To Reunite the Dispersed Family': War Displacement and Migration in the Tracing Files of the Australian Red Cross', History Australia, 12, pp. 124 - 142,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Balint R; Balint , 2014, 'Industry and Sunshine: Australia as 'Home' in the Displaced Persons Camps of Postwar Europe', History Australia, 11, pp. 102 - 127,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Balint R, 2014, 'The Idea of Home in Postwar Australia', History Australia, 11, pp. 6 - 12,
    Journal articles | 2012
    Balint R, 2012, 'Aboriginal Women and Asian Men: A Maritime History of Color in White Australia', Signs, 37, pp. 544 - 554,
    Journal articles | 2011
    Balint R, 2011, 'Soft Histories: Making history on Australian television', History Australia, 8, pp. 175 - 195
    Journal articles | 2010
    Balint R, 2010, ''Remembering Balibo'', History Australia, 7, pp. 15.1 - 15.2,
    Journal articles | 2010
    Balint R, 2010, 'Boats to Burn: Bajo Fishing Activity in the Australian Fishing Zone [Review]', Asian Studies Review, 34, pp. 262 - 263
    Journal articles | 2010
    Balint R, 2010, 'The Somerton Man: An Unsolved History', Cultural Studies Review, 16, pp. 159 - 178
    Journal articles | 2010
    Balint R, 2010, 'The Ties That Bind: Australia, Hungary and the Case of Károly Zentai', Patterns of Prejudice, 44, pp. 281 - 303,
    Journal articles | 2009
    Balint R, 2009, 'First Australians: An Illustrated History [Review]', Journal of Australian Studies, 33, pp. 489 - 491,
    Journal articles | 2008
    Balint R; Dolgopolov G, 2008, 'Film', Sydney Journal, 1, pp. 33 - 44,
    Journal articles | 2008
    Balint R, 2008, 'Being Australian, Narratives of National Identity [Review]', Journal of Australian Studies, 32, pp. 147 - 148,
    Journal articles | 2008
    Balint R, 2008, 'I Peed on Fellini: Recollections of a Life in Film [Review]', Journal of Australian Studies, 32, pp. 406 - 407,
    Journal articles | 2007
    Balint R, 2007, 'A Death in the Harbour', The Monthly, pp. 32 - 38
    Journal articles | 1999
    Balint R, 1999, 'The last frontier: Australia's maritime territories and the policing of Indonesian fishermen', Journal of Australian Studies, 23, pp. 30 - 39,
  • Recorded / Rendered Creative Works | 2019
    Balint R, 2019, ABC Radio Documentary 'Cooking for Assimilation', written and produced by Ruth Balint, ABC Radio National, Radio, Published: 26 March 2019, Duration: 30 minutes, Recorded / Rendered Creative Works,
    Reports | 2019
    Balint R, 2019, Michael Robert Staindlv Joshua Anthony Frydenberg High Gourt of Australia Proceedings No. M96 of 2019
    Recorded / Rendered Creative Works | 2014
    Balint R, 2014, Radio Program, ABC Radio National - The Somerton Man: A Mystery in Four Acts, Published: 23 February 2014, Recorded / Rendered Creative Works,
    Recorded / Rendered Creative Works | 2013
    Balint R, 2013, The Pearling Families of Broome - a two part documentary series, ABC Radio National, Radio National, Editor(s): ABC , Published: 2013, Recorded / Rendered Creative Works
    Creative Written Works | 2012
    Balint R, 2012, Small Fry: The Story of a People Smuggler, The Monthly, Schwartz Publishing
    Creative Written Works | 2009
    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
    Creative Written Works | 2009
    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
    Conference Papers | 2009
    Balint R, 2009, 'Australia Gets Lost and Goes Missing: Baz's Tourism Australia ad',, National Museum of Australia, National Museum of Australia, 07 December 2009 - 08 December 2009
    Conference Presentations | 2009
    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
    Conference Presentations | 2008
    Balint R, 2008, 'The Water Hemisphere: Australia and its exilic sea', presented at Graduate School Mediale Historiographien, Bauhaus Universität, Weimar, Germany, 19 June 2008
    Conference Presentations | 2007
    Balint R, 2007, 'Mare Nullius and a White Ocean Policy', presented at Indian Association for the Study of Australia Annual Conference, Pune India
    Conference Presentations | 2006
    Balint R, 2006, 'Sweeping the Seas Clean: A White Ocean policy in Australia's north', presented at Historicising Whiteness, University of Melbourne, 22 November 2006 - 24 November 2006
    Conference Presentations | 2005
    Balint R, 2005, 'Seascape and Memory in the Australian Psyche', presented at EASA conference: ReVisions of Australia: Histories, Images, Identity, Debrecen, Hungary, 20 September 2005 - 24 September 2005
    Recorded / Rendered Creative Works | 2003
    Balint R, 2003, The Death of Mansur, SBS Television, Sydney, Video, Published: 2003, Recorded / Rendered Creative Works
    Recorded / Rendered Creative Works | 2001
    Balint R, 2001, Troubled Waters, Resonance Production, Sydney, Video, Published: 2001, Recorded / Rendered Creative Works

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

Australian Historical Association

Australian Feminist History Group

Australian Studies Research Network

My Research Supervision

I am currently supervising two HDR theses as primary supervisor.

  1. Gender and Perpetration in Histories of the Holocaust: Enduring Misrepresentations. An Analysis of the absence of female perpetrators at memorial and perpetrator sites of the Holocaust.
  2. The growth, commercialisation and decline of the jewellery business in Sydney between 1901-1929.

My Teaching

I teach across all level of the Bachelor of Arts degree.

ARTS1271: The History of the Present

ARTS2271: Inventing Modern Australia

ARTS3289: Documentary Film and History.

ARTS3292: Migrants and Refugees in Australian History.