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The Importance Of Australian Identity In Australia

Decent Essays
Neville Meaney’s 1995 article ‘The End of ‘White Australia’ and Australia’s Changing Perceptions of Asia 1945-1990’ seeks to contextualise the complexity of Australian national identity within the historical framework of the White Australia Policy. Meaney argues that although Australia has vocalized an identity based on commitment to multiculturalism and its place within Asia, it is difficult to reconcile these new self-conceptions with the genesis of the Australian identity based on racially exclusive nationalism.

According to Meaney, the White Australia policy as a foundational element of identity at the 1901 Federation of Australia. The policy was part of an attempt to foster patriotism, whereby foreign elements were rejected in favour of a loyalty to Australia (1995: 173). Meaney cites the “social trauma of rapid modernisation” as one factor of insecurity that compelled Australia to pursue a racially homogenous society (1995: 174). However, Meaney minimizes Australia’s insecurity within Australasia, observing that only Japan was considered a threat until World War II (1995: 175). This position underestimates the unique position of Australia as an imperial colony within a racially alien region (Jayasuriya 2010: 30). The geopolitical uncertainty of the alien region ensured that Australia not only identified with Britain, but against Asia, adopting an essentially defensive identity (Mauzy 1999: 333). However, Meaney rejects the stance of methodological nationalism
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