Dr Carolyn Holbrook will present her paper titled ‘The Australian Federation: A Cultural History’ at this week’s History Seminar Series (Wednesday, 11am):
Civic Identity and Attachment within the Australian Federation: A Cultural History
Around the western world, the technological, economic and social changes of the post-industrial era are straining systems of democratic government that were designed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While Australia is not immune from disillusion and populism, social fragmentation is not as acute as in comparable nations. To what extent does our federal system of government, through its creation of multiple identities, enable Australia to accommodate diversity and maintain social cohesion more effectively than other countries? As a first step in answering this question, I am embarking on an historical study of popular attachments within the federation. How have Australians imagined their civic identities—state, national and imperial—since 1901? How have these attachments conflicted with and complemented each other? And how have they changed over time? In this paper, I will outline the methodology by which I will investigate attachment within the federation. My first method is an examination of the commemoration of significant state, national and imperial anniversaries. The second is an investigation of separatist sentiment in Western Australia.