Profile with Amy King
Amy King (Australia-at-Large & Trinity 2007) is a Lecturer in the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, where she researches and teaches on China-Japan relations, and Chinese foreign and security policy. She currently lives in Canberra, Australia. She holds a DPhil in International Relations from Oxford University, an MPhil in Chinese from Oxford University, and bachelor's degrees in International Relations and International Business from the University of South Australia.
Rhodes Project: What is your favorite thing to do in Canberra?
Amy King: I think walking. It’s a beautiful city with lots of mountains and open spaces and lakes, so walking is my favorite thing.
Rhodes Project: What was the last book you couldn’t put down?
Amy King: It was a book by an author called Drusilla Modjeska. The book is called The Mountain, and it’s about a Dutch woman living in Papua New Guinea. It was incredibly well described and a really terrific book.
Rhodes Project: What is currently playing on your iPod?
Amy King: The podcast, “This American Life.” I’m currently listening to the second episode of the piece they did on Harper High School, which is really moving.
Rhodes Project: When you were a kid, what did you aspire to be later in life?
Amy King: I wanted to be a ballerina until quite late in life. I was pretty obsessed. I checked out every single book from the library about ballet. My problem was that I was about a foot too tall to be a dancer, so I was always trying to find references to dancers that were closer to my height.
Rhodes Project: Did you take dance lessons growing up or participate in any dance groups?
Amy King: I did, until I was about fifteen or so. I took it pretty seriously, but my height (and lack of talent!) got the better of me!
Rhodes Project: What is the best part of your job now?
Amy King: The research. That probably sounds a little abstract, but I love researching. I love spending time in archives. Most of my research is based in Chinese archives, and I just get a real kick out of going there and reading through documents that are about fifty or sixty years old, in my case.
Rhodes Project: What would you say is the most challenging part?
Amy King: I think learning how to be a writer. It’s something I did a lot as a kid: writing short stories and that kind of thing. But as I got older, I had to learn how to write much longer pieces such as a thesis, and to do so in a way that I didn’t end up hating the process every day. I’ve found that really difficult, and it’s something I have spent a lot of time thinking about and reading about. I’ve really appreciated reading how-to guides and blogs by authors about writing, and listening to older colleagues who have mastered the art of writing a thousand words a day. It’s still a challenge, but it’s something I’m hoping to get better at.
Rhodes Project: What advice would you give to a young woman just entering your field?
Amy King: Find whatever it is that excites you—the thing that you read about at week-ends or the books that you can’t put down. Choose to do your research or teaching on that subject. That’s what you want to become an expert in because it’s the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. Finding the thing that gives you that kind of thrill is crucial.
Rhodes Project: What surprised you recently?
Amy King: I just moved back to Australia from the UK. I guess I was surprised by how different those two countries are. In some ways, they shouldn’t be because they have such a shared history, similar legal and political systems, and a strong history of migration between the two countries. But culturally, in terms of the people and the way people interact, they are really different. Learning to operate in a work place in Australia again as an adult has been something that has been slightly harder than I expected having spent the last five years in the UK.
Rhodes Project: What do you do to relax?
Amy King: Walking and hiking, listening to podcasts, hanging out at the beach with my family. Those are probably the top three things.
Rhodes Project: What brings you the most joy in your life?
Amy King: My family. They make me laugh a lot.
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