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Migrant Incorporation and Political Memories: Transformations of Civic and Communal Belonging in Australia since 1949

  • J. Olaf Kleist
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies book series (PMMS)

Abstract

Throughout Australia’s modern history, memories have been highly political. The modes of belonging that memories epitomised have represented controversial political interests as well as historically evolving conceptions of the organisation of society. In particular, because Australia was founded as a settler society, notions of belonging that have been expressed through memories have always been controversial in regard to the original inhabitants of the continent as well as in relation to new arrivals. The polarising potential of memories was especially apparent during the 1980s and 1990s when Australian society was engaged in the so-called History Wars. What appeared to be an academic controversy about the interpretation of Aboriginal and colonial history on the surface was a very public and much analysed debate that challenged conventional imaginings of Australian belonging. It fuelled social, political and legal conflicts about indigenous/non-indig- enous relations, historical justice and traditional land rights.1 Despite obvious intersections, memories of Australia’s ambivalent migration past, from settler colonialism through racist exclusions to mass immigration, were regarded as peripheral concerns in the History Wars. Yet, notions of Australian belonging have been constructed vis a vis immigrants and with references to the migration past from since the early nineteenth century.

Keywords

Australian Society Cultural Memory Australian Citizenship Settler Colonialism Citizenship Test 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 49.
    See John William Tate, ‘John Howard’s Nation: Multiculturalism, Citizenship, and Identity’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 55, 1, 2009, 97–120, here 113–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 50.
    See Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell, ‘Making Australian Citizenship Mean More’, People and Place 15, 1, 2007, 45–61, here 47. In September 2006 a total of 77 per cent of respondents were in favour of introducing a citizenship test as compared to 19 per cent against, see http://www.newspoll.com.au/image_uploads/0906%20Aust%20Citizenship%20Test.pdf (accessed 13 March 2010). See also for a favourable view Gerard Henderson, ‘Welcome to All who Pass the Test’, Sydney Morning Herald 28 September 2007, available at http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/welcome-to-all-who-pass-the- test/2007/08/27/1188067035595.html (accessed 14 March 2010).Google Scholar
  3. 51.
    See, for example Brian Costar and Peter Mares, ‘A Test that Will Divide, not Unite’, Australia Policy Online, 14 December 2006, available at http://www.apo.org.au/commentary/test-will-divide-not-unite (accessed 14 March 2010); Amnesty International Australia, Refugees Disadvantaged by Citizenship Test, 31 January 2008, available at http://www.amnesty.org.au/refugees/comments/8775/(accessed 14 March 2010); Lyn Allison, ‘Citizenship Test is the new Aussi Cringe’, ABC News Online, 28 September 2007, available at http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/09/28/2045805.htm (accessed 14 March 2010).Google Scholar
  4. 52.
    Gwenda Tavan, ‘Testing Times: the Problem of “History” in Howard Government’s Australian Citizenship Test’, in Klaus Neumann and Gwenda Tavan (eds), Does History Matter? Making and Debating Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Policy in Australia and New Zealand, (Canberra: ANU E Press 2009), 125–143, here 129–133.Google Scholar
  5. 53.
    Tim McNamara, ‘Australia: The Dictation Test Redux?’, Language Assessment Quarterly 6, 1, 2009; Tavan: ‘Testing Times’, 133–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 66.
    Jan Assmann, Das Kulturelle Gedächtnis: Schrift, Erinnerung Und Politische Identität in Frühen Hochkulturen, (München: C.H. Beck, 1992); Astrid Erll, Ansgar Nünning and Sara B. Young, Cultural Memory Studies: An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook, (Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008).Google Scholar
  7. 67.
    See also J. Olaf Kleist, ‘Grenzen der Erinnerung: Methoden des Vergangenheitsbezugs und ihre Implikationen für Migrationspolitik’, in Elisabeth Boesen and Fabienne Lentz (eds), Migration und Erinnerung: Konzepte und Methoden der Forschung, (Münster: LIT, 2010), 223–255.Google Scholar
  8. 68.
    On a more abstract level, a similar observation has been made in relation to Holocaust memories by Moishe Postone, ‘The Holocaust and the Trajectory of the Twentieth Century’, in Moishe Postone and Eric L. Santner (eds), Catastrophe and Meaning: The Holocaust and the Twentieth Century, (Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 81–114.Google Scholar

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© J. Olaf Kleist 2012

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  • J. Olaf Kleist

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