Richard White’s Inventing Australia: revisiting the invention forty years later

Carniel, Jessica ORCID: (2021) Richard White’s Inventing Australia: revisiting the invention forty years later. History Australia, 18 (1). pp. 156-167. ISSN 1449-0854

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On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of Richard White's germinal text, Inventing Australia, this article presents a cultural history of the book, with particular attention to its influence on the fields of cultural history and Australian studies. Influenced by poststructuralist theory, White's book has prompted generations of scholars and students to critically examine the ways in which the Australian nation is 'invented' and the particular role of cultural power brokers in this process. Although White identifies historians as playing a particular role in the process of inventing the nation, it is striking to the contemporary reader how little he ultimately engaged with this observation in the text. The article compares White's approach to understanding the idea of the Australian nation and Russel Ward's exploration of Australian character in The Australian Legend, and considers the important work performed by Catriona Elder's extension of White's ideas in Being Australian. Ultimately, White's book remains an important touchstone not just in terms of understanding the invention of Australia, but for analysing the role we play as scholars in this.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2021 05:08
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2021 23:06
Uncontrolled Keywords: nation, Australian studies, cultural history
Fields of Research (2008): 21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Fields of Research (2020): 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430302 Australian history
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australia's Past
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130703 Understanding Australia’s past
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