The aims of the Australasian Association for Communist and Post-Communist Studies (AACaPS) are to support the academic exchange and study of political, socio-economic and cultural issues faced by countries formerly belonging to the ‘socialist system’.
The Association was founded as the Australasian Association for the Study of Socialist Countries by a group of scholars on the initiative of renowned Sovietologist Dr T.H. Rigby in 1975. Dr Rigby served as the first President of AASSC. Under his administration the association’s constitution and general focus were established. Such were the events leading to the formation of the association as Prof Rigby recalled them:
The January 1975 congress of the Australia-New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS), held at the ANU, it attracted a large enough turnout of interested scholars to hold a successful foundation meeting of what, after a great deal of argument, we resolved to call the Australasian Association for the Study of the Socialist Countries. That word ‘socialist’ pressed upon us by Hungarian sociologist Laszlo Csapo of LaTrobe University, occasioned a lengthy dispute before the rest of us finally succumbed. I suspect my chairing was not firm enough, but at least we got a most scholarly-sounding acronym: AASSC, pronounced ‘ask’ .
The basic purpose of the Association was to serve as a “clearing house of information of interest for scholars” in the area, as well as to promote general interest in the area and to stimulate scholarly activity by organizing conferences and symposia. The association was also active in encouraging inter-governmental and inter-university exchange with the (then) socialist countries. The AASSC united scholars interested in East European, Soviet and Chinese studies. Over the years the position of President of the AASSC was held, among others, by T.H Rigby, L.G. Churchward, W. Brugger, J. Wilczynski, R.F. Miller, A. Jones, S. Fortescue and L. Holmes.
In 1968 Dr Rigby initiated the formation of the ANU Interdisciplinary Committee on Soviet and East European Studies. From 1973 the Committee issued a semiannual Newsletter on Soviet and East European Studies in Australia and New Zealand, which then became the Newsletter of the AASSC following its establishment. In 1982 the first AASSC ‘special interest seminar’, or the first AASSC conference, was held during the ANZAAS congress. From 1987 the former journal of the Australian and New Zealand Slavists’ Association (ANZSA), Melbourne Slavonic Studies, was replaced by the journal Australian Slavonic and East European Studies as a joint organ of ANZSA and AASSC. From 1993 the Association became known as the Australasian Association for Communist and Post-Communist Studies (AACPCS). This change of name was preceded by the period of reflection on the future of the association. The renewed association aims to provide a forum for continuing links between the ‘Soviet’ and ‘Chinese’ members, and continue to have ‘Eurasian’ focus as well as to promote academic exchange and the study of political, socio-economic and cultural issues faced by the countries formerly belonging to the ‘socialist system’.