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From British subjects to Australian values: a citizenship-building approach to Australia–Asia relations

Jayasuriya, K. (2008) From British subjects to Australian values: a citizenship-building approach to Australia–Asia relations. Contemporary Politics, 14 (4). pp. 479-495.

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Australia–Asia relations are inextricably bound up 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 statecraft projects of ‘citizenship building’ are profoundly shaped, determined and reinforced by the institutions and policies of regional engagement. We explore this framework through three critical junctures of domestic and external policy:

1. the emergence of dominion status on the basis of a common racial and cultural identity within the empire in the first half of the century;

2. the developing notion of a good international citizen during the Hawke and Keating period;

3. the invocation of Australian values by John Howard.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
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