In conversation with Julienne van Loon

Philosopher's Circle

Dr Helen Caldicott + Laura Roberts

Queensland Terrace, State Library of Queensland




#About the event


Dr Helen Caldicott

Dr Helen Caldicott

Helen Caldicott, a graduate of the University of Adelaide  School of Medicine, was a faculty member of Harvard Medical School and in 1974 founded the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at Adelaide Children’s hospital. In 1971 she played a major role in Australia’s opposition to French atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific.  While at Harvard in the early 1980s, she helped to reinvigorate, as its president, Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization of 23,000 doctors committed to educating their colleagues about the dangers of nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. On trips abroad she helped start similar medical organizations in many other countries; their umbrella group,  International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. She also founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) in the US in 1980.

The author or editor of eight books including Nuclear Madness, Missile Envy, and, most recently, Sleepwalking to Armageddon, she has been the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, the subject of three award-winning documentary films, and  was  named one of the 20th Century’s most influential women by the Smithsonian Institution.   

Laura Roberts

Laura Roberts received her PhD in Philosophy from The University of Queensland, Australia, where she currently teaches Gender Studies and Philosophy. Although she now resides in Australia, Laura was born and raised in South Africa and began her undergraduate studies in Drama and Philosophy at The University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Her research interests emerge from the field of post-colonial/decolonial theory and feminist philosophy, particularly the work of Luce Irigaray and Gayatri Spivak.

Laura is currently finalising her monograph, Luce Irigaray and Politics, forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press (2018), in which she explores the question of the political in Luce Irigaray’s philosophy of sexuate difference. Her new research question(s), evolving out of her work in this book and time spent in Barcelona, explore the links between feminist theory and the feminisation of politics in the new international municipalist movement, with a particular focus on the strategies and policies of Barcelona en Comú.

Laura is co-director of The Irigaray Circle ( and is a founding member of the community-based Queensland School of Continental Philosophy ( that seeks to bring philosophical and political conversations back into the wider community.


Julienne van Loon

Julienne van Loon

Julienne van Loon’s novels include Road Story, Beneath the Bloodwood Tree and Harmless. Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Sydney Review of Books, The Monthly, Griffith Review and Best Australian Stories. The Thinking Woman, a collection of essays on contemporary women thinkers, will be published by NewSouth Books in 2019. Julienne’s fiction is widely critically acclaimed and has been awarded The Australian/Vogel’s Award and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Best First Book) award and the WA Premier’s Award for Fiction. She holds a PhD from the University of Queensland, and directed the Creative Writing program at Curtin University for more than a decade. She now lives in Melbourne, where she is a Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow with non/fictionLab at RMIT University. Julienne is a Peer Assessor for Literature at the Australia Council for the Arts and co-editor of the Creative Writing journal TEXT. In 2017, she was appointed an Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa.

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