Being Australian: Narratives of national identity

Front Cover
Allen & Unwin, Jun 1, 2007 - Social Science - 400 pages
After a century of speculation by writers, filmmakers, travelers and scholars, being Australian' has become a recognisable shorthand for a group of national characteristics. Now, in an era of international terrorism, being seen as un-Australian' has become a potent rhetorical weapon for some, and a badge of honour for others.

Catriona Elder explores the origins, meaning and effects of the many stories we tell about ourselves, and how they have changed over time. She outlines some of the traditional stories and their role in Australian nationalism, and she shows how concepts of egalitarianism, peaceful settlement and sporting prowess have been used to create a national identity.

Elder also investigates the cultural and social perspectives that have been used to critique dominant accounts of Australian identity, including ideas of class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race. She shows how these critiques have been, in turn, queried in recent years.

Being Australian is an ideal introduction to studying Australia for anyone interested in understanding Australian society, culture and history.

A clever work: incisive and original. At a time when Australian identities have never been more debated, Elder finds an open way through the closed doors which often restrict cultural representations of Australian-ness.'

Professor Adam Shoemaker, Dean of Arts, ANU

This is a timely and significant new analysis essential reading on issues of identity and our own anxieties about national belonging and what it means to be Australian' in a globalising world.'

Kate Darian-Smith, Professor of Australian Studies and History, University of Melbourne
 

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Seems to be a very in-depth look at what makes Australians- well, Australians. It also seems to go back and forth a lot between what IS an Australian and what is un- Australian, giving examples of athletes and others. Overall, though, it didn't grab my attention.

Contents

Introduction
1
Stories in the making
21
Ways of being Australian
179
Conclusion
352
Glossary
354
Bibliography
362
Index
381
Copyright

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Page 227 - And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars. I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall, And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city, Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all. And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street; And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting Gomes fitfully and faintly...
Page 26 - Far from being grounded in a mere 'recovery' of the past, which is waiting to be found, and which, when found, will secure our sense of ourselves into eternity, identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past.
Page 4 - typical Australian' is a practical man, rough and ready in his manners and quick to decry any appearance of affectation in others. He is a great improviser, ever willing 'to have a go' at anything, but willing too to be content with a task done in a way that is 'near enough'.
Page 300 - BEHOLD THE MAN — the Australian man of today — on Sunday mornings in the suburbs, when the high-decibel drone of the motor-mower is calling the faithful to worship. A block of land, a brick veneer, and the motor-mower beside him in the wilderness — what more does he want to sustain him, except a Holden to polish, a beer with the boys, marital sex on Saturday...
Page 227 - ... through the ceaseless tramp of feet. And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste, With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy, For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste. And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy, Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go, While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal — But...
Page 139 - You tell me I look strange. Different. You don't adopt me. You laugh at the way I speak. You think you're better than me. You don't like me. You don't have any interest in another country. Idiot centre of your own self. You think the rest of the world walks around without shoes or electric light. You don't go anywhere. You stay at home. You like one another. You go crazy on Saturday night. You get drunk. You don't like me and you don't like women. You put your arm around men in bars. You're rough....
Page 263 - I propose to call these subaltern counterpublics in order to signal that they are parallel discursive arenas where members of subordinated social groups invent and circulate counterdiscourses to formulate oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests, and...
Page 227 - Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street; And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet. And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste, With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy, For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.
Page 38 - ... apparatus of state power, somewhat redefined by a hasty, functionalist reading of Foucault or Bakhtin; or, in a more utopian inversion, as the incipient or emergent expression of the 'national-popular' sentiment preserved in a radical memory. These approaches are valuable in drawing our attention to those easily obscured, but highly significant, recesses of the national culture from which alternative constituencies of peoples and oppositional analytic capacities may emerge — youth, the everyday,...
Page 4 - ... policemen. Yet he is very hospitable and, above all, will stick to his mates through thick and thin, even if he thinks they may be in the wrong. No epithet in his vocabulary is more completely damning than 'scab', unless it be 'pimp' used in its peculiarly Australasian slang meaning of 'informer'.

About the author (2007)

Catriona Elder lectures in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney.

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