In 1929 prominent Austro-German filmmaker and author Colin Ross visited Australia with his family for several months. In his literary and cinematic work on Australia Ross establishes a perplexing argument: Australia’s “nordic myth” (the White Australia policy) exposes the continent to the peril of an Asian invasion. In accordance with concepts of cultural hegemony within the framework of the so-called German liberal imperialism and driven by Germany’s ambition to reestablish a presence in its former colonial realm, he advocates for the forced immigration of South European laborers to the continent to populate the vast “empty space” of Australia and guard against the menacing consequences of a British-Japanese pact. This article discusses the visual and literary strategies employed by Ross to popularize geo-political thinking in Germany, thereby inducing a shift in the travelogue genre from appealing to “colonial desire” to promoting the politics of an emerging imperialism.
Austro-German Filmmaker, Bestselling Author and Journalist Colin Ross Discovers Australia
Australian Protest in a Social Movement Society
Ben Hightower and Scott East
This introduction begins by challenging a common narrative formed in relation to Australia—that it is a “lucky country.” This “exceptionalist” view of Australia is also evidenced in national legal frameworks relating to human rights. Drawing on histories of Australian politics, it is argued that social justice stems not from luck or an exceptional legislative system, but from various forms of social contestation. Especially since the global protests of 2011, more scholars are considering the organization, impacts, and practices of social movements that occur on a global scale. Despite the evolution of globalized protest, this collection is informed by Connell’s southern theory (2007), which identifies the unequal geopolitics of knowledge. The articles in this issue provide a diverse range of case studies that can inform protest practices and evidence the vitality of dissent in Australia. Activist knowledges and a quest for collaborative approaches to protest are the two elements that run throughout this issue of Contention.
A Missed Opportunity?
This paper describes the rise of boys’ education as a substantial social and educational issue in Australia in the 1990s, mapping the changes in Australian discourses on boys’ education in this period. Ideas and authors informed by the men’s movement entered the discourses about boys’ education, contributing to a wave of teacher experimentation and new ways of thinking about gender policies in schools. The author suggests that there is currently a policy impasse, and proposes a new multi-disciplinary approach bringing together academic, practitioner, policy, and public discourses on boys’ education.
The Role of Government Agencies, NGOs, and Local Communities in Western Australia
Leonie van der Maesen and Timothy Cadman
This article details the engagement by the Department of Physical Geography of Utrecht University in the Netherlands with rural communities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to assist them in gaining a better understanding of the environmental impacts of the management practices of the governmental forest authorities of the state of Western Australia in pursuit of international timber exports. The study commences with a description of the unique characteristics of WA’s forest communities. It continues with an account of governmental international forest policy norms and the discourse of sustainable forest management (SFM). This is followed by a delineation of the interactions between the academic community and civil society in their engagement with governmental departments in arguing the case for conservation. The final section makes some concluding observations on the lessons that can be learned from the failure of the state government to ensure the sustainable management of the forests of Western Australia.
Aboriginality and 'Ordinary' Australia in Travel Writing of the 1990s
Recent Australian travel narratives are distinguished by the way they represent Indigenous Australian cultures. Moreover, the experience of white Australian culture in recent travel writing by visiting authors like Bill Bryson (In a Sunburned Country/Down Under, 2000), Annie Caulfield (The Winners' Enclosure, 1999), and Mark McCrum (No Worries, 1997) is influenced by the authors' experiences of Aboriginality and Australia's heritage of colonialism and race relations. Following a trend in contemporary travel writing to explore ordinary life, the works of Bryson, Caulfield and McCrum seek 'ordinary Australia' and discover, through encounters with Aboriginality, a place and culture far removed from either the stereotypes of tourist brochures, or the quirky characters that inhabit the soap operas and films that have advertised Australia to the rest of the world.
In Far North Queensland, a region in the northeast of Australia, cyclones are an annual risk. As a result of this frequency of cyclonic activity, different forms of cyclone knowledge exist ranging from disaster management information to local conceptualizations. For the people that inhabit this region, cyclones are a lived reality that are known in different, seemingly contradictory ways. Drawing on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Far North Queensland from 2012 to 2015, this article explores how local cyclone knowledge is assembled from a variety of heterogeneous factors that change and fluctuate through time, and are subject to an ongoing process of evaluation.
The Ghostly Presences of Captain Matthew McVicker-Smyth and his Western Australian Mineral Collection in the State Library of Western Australia
Andrea Witcomb and Alistair Patterson
The discovery of five photographs in 2018 in the State Library of Western Australia led us to the existence of a forgotten private museum housing the collection of Captain Matthew McVicker Smyth in early-twentieth-century Perth. Captain Smyth was responsible for the selling of Nobel explosives used in the agriculture and mining industries. The museum contained mineral specimens in cases alongside extensive, aesthetically organized displays of Australian Aboriginal artifacts amid a wide variety of ornaments and decorative paintings. The museum reflects a moment in the history of colonialism that reminds us today of forms of dispossession, of how Aboriginal people were categorized in Australia by Western worldviews, and of the ways that collectors operated. Our re-creation brings back into existence a significant Western Australian museum and opens up a new discussion about how such private collections came into existence and indeed, in this instance, about how they eventually end.
“Savagery” and “Civilization” in the Australian Interwar Imaginary
Australian travel writing of the interwar period expanded with the growth of tourism in the Pacific Islands and the development of publishing and literacy at home. This article focuses on how the Australian middlebrow imagination was shaped by the diverse travel accounts of Australian tourists, adventurers, executives, scientists, officials, and missionaries writing at this time. Many of their texts borrowed and blended multiple discourses, simultaneously promoting the islands as educational and exotic, and appealing to an Australian middlebrow readership. In this article I argue that not only was travel writing middlebrow in its content and style, but the islands themselves were a particularly middlebrow setting. This is evident in representations of the islander “savage” in the region of Melanesia, a prevalent theme in Australian travelogues. I argue that this middlebrow literature was characterized by ambivalent and often contradictory ideas about the civilized “self” and the savage “other.”
E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class and Australia
E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class was influential in Australia as it was throughout the Anglophone world. The focus of interest changed over time, starting with the fate of those of The Making's radical protesters who were transported to the Australian colonies, and then focusing on questions of class formation and the relationship between agency and structure. The peak of influence was in the 1980s, especially in the rising field of social history, and a little later in the burgeoning field of cultural history. Yet The Making's own limitations on questions of gender, race, and colonialism meant that feminist and indigenous histories, which were transforming the discipline, engaged with it only indirectly. In recent years, as the turn to transnational, imperial, and Indigenous histories has taken hold, Thompson's influence has somewhat declined.
Jane Mummery and Debbie Rodan
Signaling dissatisfaction with particular events, policies, or situations, modes of protest encompass individual expressions through to the development and mobilization of social movements. Indeed, protests can range from bodies blocking space and time to the aggregation of clicked signatures in an online petition and the sharing of campaign content through social media. All of these modes are currently employed within the Australian public sphere to bring about change or closure of the live export industry. This article analyzes the current dimensions and flows of public protest against Australia’s live export industry, examining how they are shaped not only by a myriad of organizations but also by differing modes of protest, as well as by the different modes of appeal in use by activists to mobilize the Australian public sphere in protest. Through this discussion, insight is gained into some of the capacities and efficacies of multimodal protest and its significance for both public engagement and political and industry uptake.