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James Murdoch (1856–1921): Australia’s first chair of oriental studies
journal contributionposted on 14.10.2020, 00:00 by Darren SwansonDarren Swanson
The year 2017 marked the passing of 100 years since the formation of The University of Sydney’s Japanese Department, and along with it the appointment of the Scottish Orientalist James Murdoch (1856–1921) as the university’s first chair of Oriental Studies. While Murdoch’s position was unquestionably significant, his tenure was ultimately too short for him to establish any kind of scholarly legacy at the university. For many years, the mantle of the progenitor of Oriental Studies at Sydney fell to Murdoch’s successor, Professor Arthur Sadler, who held the role from 1922 until 1948.1 This in itself is a poignant reminder that Murdoch’s contribution to the promotion of the Japanese language in Australia has, to some extent, been overlooked. As the first, he should be remembered as such.