Being Australian : Narratives of national identity book cover
1st Edition

Being Australian
Narratives of national identity

ISBN 9781741149289
Published June 1, 2007 by Routledge
400 Pages

USD $36.95

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Book Description

After a century of speculation by writers, filmmakers, travelers and scholars, being Australian' has become a recognisable shorthand for a group of national characteristics. Now, in an era of international terrorism, being seen as un-Australian' has become a potent rhetorical weapon for some, and a badge of honour for others.

Catriona Elder explores the origins, meaning and effects of the many stories we tell about ourselves, and how they have changed over time. She outlines some of the traditional stories and their role in Australian nationalism, and she shows how concepts of egalitarianism, peaceful settlement and sporting prowess have been used to create a national identity.

Elder also investigates the cultural and social perspectives that have been used to critique dominant accounts of Australian identity, including ideas of class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race. She shows how these critiques have been, in turn, queried in recent years. Being Australian is an ideal introduction to studying Australia for anyone interested in understanding Australian society, culture and history.

Table of Contents


Part 1: Stories in the making

1 Imagining nations: Telling national tales

2 The working man is everywhere: Class and national identity

3 The invisible woman: Gender and nation

4 Populate or perish: Sexuality and nation

5 White Australia meets multiculturalism: Ethnicity and nation

6 The myth of terra nullius: Indigeneity and nation

Part 2: Ways of being Australian

7 The cultural nation: Art, cinema and music

8 The heart of the country: Place, space and land

9 The land of the long weekend: Public holidays and national events

10 Taking to the streets: National uses of public spaces

11 Backyards and barracking: The everyday in Australia

12 Australia on display: Museums, heritage and the national capital



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Catriona Elder lectures in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney.


A clever work: incisive and original. At a time when Australian identities have never been more debated, Elder finds an open way through the closed doors which often restrict cultural representations of Australian-ness.'

Professor Adam Shoemaker, Dean of Arts, ANU

This is a timely and significant new analysis essential reading on issues of identity and our own anxieties about national belonging and what it means to be Australian' in a globalising world.'

Kate Darian-Smith, Professor of Australian Studies and History, University of Melbourne