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“Space without people”

Austro-German Filmmaker, Bestselling Author and Journalist Colin Ross Discovers Australia

Siegfried Mattl

Keywords: Australia; Australian immigration theory; geopolitics; German documentary film; imperialism; travelogues

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.

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