The International Australian Studies Association (InASA) is pleased to call for papers for its 2020 biennial conference: Reinventing Australia. The conference will be held at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne from 30 November – 2 December 2020.
For ‘Reinventing Australia’ we ask the question: what does it mean to ‘be Australian’? In his 1981 book, Inventing Australia, Richard White argued that Australian identity drew from a pastiche of icons – the convict, the digger, the surf lifesaver, the bushranger and the wide-open spaces of the outback. White argued that these ideals were devised to promote an egalitarian myth of the ‘lucky country’, while serving a set of elite interests. There is no ‘“real” Australia’, White argued, just a continual fracturing, questioning and redefinition of national identity as powerful interests compete for authority.
It is now nearly forty years since Inventing Australia was published. In this time, Australia’s demography has been changed by high rates of non-European immigration. We have seen multiculturalism as official policy go in and out of favour, an uneven and patchy reconciliation process between First Nations and non-Indigenous peoples, and the entrenchment of a punitive border policy regime. The Anzac legend, with its echoes of a British-Australia that no longer exists, has been reinstated as the premier national mythology, as the nation faces new challenges, including climate change and an escalating American-Sino trade war.
This conference poses the question Richard White asked in 1981, taking account of the transformations that have occurred in Australian society, the interests that seek to promote particular versions of ‘Australianness’, and the desire of members of an ‘imagined community’, such as Australia, to shape and define their essence. We welcome papers on topics relating to Australian Studies broadly defined, including those which relate Australia to connected global histories, movements, trends, international relations and ideas. Some possible themes include:
• Australian and transnational histories
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous Studies
• Cinema Studies
• Cultural Studies
• Art, music and creative practices
• Politics and International Relations
• Memory and Heritage
Abstracts of 150 words and a short biography of 75 words should be submitted by 31 March 2020. More details about the conference including the submission of abstracts, keynote speakers, postgraduate travel bursaries, the venue and conference events are available from the conference website. You may also direct any queries to InASA2020@acu.edu.au.
Image: Adnate’s mural on the Collingwood Housing Estate, Melbourne. Photographed by Nicole Reed. Courtesy Juddy Roller.