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From British subjects to Australian values: Australia-Asia relations as citizenship building

Jayasuriya, K. (2008) From British subjects to Australian values: Australia-Asia relations as citizenship building. Murdoch University. Asia Research Centre, Murdoch, W.A.

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Australia–Asia relations — the configuration of policy frameworks and institutions — are inextricably bound with the development of notions of statehood and citizenship. The argument advanced here is that the way a state acts within the international community markedly determines how it relates to its own citizens. Here we suggest that the continuing and politically resonant idea of Australia as a ‘middle power’ is a crucial thread that links the international and national dimensions of citizenship building. From the very beginning of Federation the contingent sovereignty of the new Australian Commonwealth in the imperial order became necessarily entangled with debate over national political institutions and citizenship building. Long after the end of the British Empire, the notion of middle power politics has determined the nature and shape of citizenship building. These state projects of ‘citizenship building’ are profoundly shaped, determined and reinforced by the institutions and policies of regional engagement. I explore this framework through three critical junctures of domestic and external policy: the emergence of dominion status on the basis of common racial and cultural identity within the Empire in the first half of the century; the developing notion of a good international citizen during the Hawke and Keating period; and the invocation of Australian values during the Howard tenure in government.

Publication Type: Working Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
Series Name: Working Paper. Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Murdoch University. Asia Research Centre
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