Abstract: To recognize the accomplishments of imperial settlement, the BAAS, the umbrella organization founded in 1831, began in 1884 to locate some of its annual conferences outside Britain. Canada hosted the first of these congresses and two more (1897 and 1909), and South Africa held one (1905); Australia’s turn came in 1914. This massive endeavor, held at sites throughout the country, required several years to plan and mobilized a range of resources from the Governor General to the local motorcar clubs. Throughout the new Federation, the event was anticipated as a test of Australia’s modernity, its rise, in the terms of the day, from terra nullius to participation in scientific and social developments at the highest global standard. In particular, Australian universities sought full, not provincial, partnership in high-level circulations of information, methodology, and personnel. The timing was unfortunate, of course. The war began while the conference met, creating logistical and diplomatic crises, and, more importantly, a shift—or collapse—in the optimistic envisioning of imperial affiliation and participation.

Keywords: Scientific congresses, Modernity, Eugenics, Imperial networks, 1914

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