Katie Linnane
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Australian foreign policy and the vernacular of national belonging
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Across the 1990s, a ‘culture war’ raged between Australian Prime Ministers Keating and Howard. At its crux, their discursive battles reflected divergent and competing conceptions of Australian nationhood, and Australia’s place in the world. For Keating, Australia’s future and interests resided in a comprehensive engagement with Asia. For Howard, Australia’s identity was situated firmly within the Anglo-sphere. This chapter examines how such articulations of national identity related to foreign policy during the Keating and Howard governments. Through an exploration of foreign policy language, it will illuminate the efforts made by Australian governments to link foreign policy objectives with particular conceptions of Australian national identity. Specifically, this chapter will highlight the deliberate attempts by Keating and then by Howard to fuse elements of their foreign and domestic agendas in pursuit of a vision that took in very particular and radically different conceptions of Australian identity. It aims to pose important questions about what Australian foreign policy language might reveal about contested notions of national identity, and following that, how foreign policy can be understood as part of a political project to define what it means to be Australian.

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The politics of identity

Place, space and discourse

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