In the climactic years of the federation movement, Edmund Barton coined the slogan 'A nation for a continent'. Australians now take the idea for granted, and often associate it with another cliche, about becoming a nation on the beaches of Gallipoli. Some of them now believe that the logic of national identity leads inevitably to republicanism. In fact the idea that there is, or can be, an Australian nation has had a long and chequered history.
Nationalism and Federalism in Australia traces that history, from the first settlement, which coincided with the origin of the nation-state idea in Europe, to the present day. It explains the origins and development of Australian federalism in the widest context, examining the alienation of the earliest convict settlers; racial attitudes and conflicts; 'nationalist culture'; immigration policy and the effects of immigration; attitudes to the mother country; the survival of provincialism; and changing perceptions of Australia's place in the world.
It offers a challenging and, in view of the 'republican debate', timely reinterpretation. It argues that Australian nationalism developed slowly and unevenly before federation, and that it continued, notwithstanding the centralization of power in Canberra, to be remarkably ambivalent afterwards. In recent decades it has been effectively inhibited by such factors as a new consciousness of Aboriginal problems; 'multiculturalism'; the survival of other national loyalties; and a considerable surrender of sovereignty to international agencies. It has become very much a matter of symbols, a vastly less potent force than the traditional nationalisms of Europe and more recent manifestations in Asia and Africa.
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Winston Gregory McMinn was Associate Professor of History at the University of Newcastle.Review:
"A readable, enjoyable, and broadly illuminating book."--Choice
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