Walter (1992) states in his essay ‘Defining Australia’ that the question of what the ‘real’ Australia is will never be solved but that there exist and keep arising different ideas about it. These various cultural productions have to be questioned as to who produces them and which purposes they serve. National identity creates unity among people in the sense of Benedict Anderson’s ‘imagined communities’. Members believe in a set of things about what being Australian includes and excludes. National celebrations as for example Australia Day, the proclamation of Commonwealth or Anzac Day are different media guided events on which Australians are held to feel a “collective Australian consciousness” (7). Nevertheless, opposing ideas are put under the same national persuasive ‘cloche’ in order to make differences forgotten. An effective tool to create this nationhood has been myth-making in order to link Australians to a self-picture and “transcend contemporary divisions” (16).
It is made clear that national unity should include all participants who live in contemporary Australia. This diversity, however, represents a wide field of interest groups which constantly shape the idea of ‘nation’ and use its power for their own ideological, racist or economical purposes.
One central statement that Waterhouse (2003) makes in his essay ‘Cultural Transmissions’ is that Australian national character has not just developed in form of an ‘organic process’ (115) and also has not just been imposed by ‘superior’ cultures, but is the result of cultural transmissions between different groups inside Australia and, furthermore, the reworking of cultural influx in order to make something ‘own’.
The Frankfurt School stressed the existence of “the cultural industry” (115) which imposes cultural ideas on people which become “passive recipients” (115) with no choice. Since the 1970s there is discussion about the notion that development of culture and national character involves a range of factors in terms of gender, time, national and international space, class and ethnicity. Furthermore, people are seen as autonomous in being able to choose from the wide variety of mass culture productions.
Hybridism characterises Australian culture during the decades till the twentieth century. The ongoing cultural transmission between Indigenous and European-Australian culture are seen as an integral part of the complex Australian national mosaic.
Duncan et al. (2004) argue in Imagining Australia: Ideas for Our Future that the ‘traditional’ idea about Australian identity is no longer able to meet the challenges of contemporary Australian society that is multiculturalism and complexity. It is argued that contemporary society can “fashion” (11) itself a new identity and “update” (11) the national story. This stands in opposition to the idea of national identity as being organic and bound to a growth in its “own logic” (11).
- Quote paper
- Annika Onken (Author), 2009, Issues in Australian Studies: National Identity, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/137783