Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Conference paper finished, world peace breaks out

I've just finished the first draft of the paper that I am giving at the Eureka 150 Democracy Conference in Ballarat on Friday. Here are the first two paragraphs to show you how interesting it is:

This paper is concerned with some of the ways that scholars and historians have understood the ideological approaches to immigration in the twentieth century. We are familiar with the ideas—-White Australia, assimilation, integration, multiculturalism. These are terms that describe ideological approaches to difference within the nation-state. They are common to many other nations, in particular Canada, the United States, Britain and some European nations, but it is in the Australian context that I will be arguing in this paper. The multicultural phenomenon here has been a peculiarly Australian solution to the problem of difference, inspired in part by radically egalitarian ideals.

If, as James Jupp has written, Australian history can only be understood as the history of immigration, then it must be an essential task for all of us to understand the ideas behind that history of immigration. The society we share has been shaped by past conceptions of immigration and the imagined identities of immigrants. We all of us have ideas about what is best, necessary, or advisable in Australia, and have some idea of what shape our Australian multiculturalism should take to fit in with this vision. These ideas of multiculturalism are at their simplest level, political ones concerning the rights and responsibilities of Australian citizens and residents, the role of the State as an influence in individual and community life, and the imagined character of a shared nation-state.

When I get the final draft finished I'll distribute it amongst those who ask for a copy. Feel free to comment in the form. Thanks to those of you who've kept in contact with me through my monk-like seclusion. And now, to leave the house for a beer!


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