Macquarie University
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Survival of a nation: from assimilation to reactionary nationalism

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posted on 2022-03-28, 13:41 authored by Christopher John Naylor
During the period from the end of World War II to the early 2000's Australia was forced to adapt to the migrant presence if it were to survive as a modern liberal democracy. Migrants were necessary to the economy and the building of the nation after World War II. Immigration was conceived as a mechanism of national survival. But immigrants needed to fit into Anglo-Australian culture, the existing template. Our society thus had two driving needs: a desire to increase population through migration, and a desire to preserve the existing society that had been derived from Great Britain. This thesis argues that one of the central themes of the story of immigration after the war has been the working out of a fundamental dialectic between the demands of the 'body' and that of the 'soul'. These produced, or were propelled by, different conceptions of survival. Evolving settlement policies became ways of resolving the emerging conflict between the numbers and background of migrants and the need to preserve an Anglo-Australian culture. Assimilation and integration were designed firmly to preserve the latter, but multiculturalism had shifted towards maintaining migrant culture and migrant survival within the larger society. But many thought that multiculturalism wasn't a solution, that it undermined Anglo-Australian culture. The pendulum then swung back the other way with John Howard's retreat from multiculturalism and the rise of nationalist reactionary sentiment surrounding Pauline Hanson, Tampa and the Cronulla riots. -- This thesis charts how Australia attempted to resolve this dialectic, to manage large-scale immigration and at the same time preserve the existing Anglo-Australian nation. The greater immigration influx brought a structural tension to Australian society, between maintaining that White Australian culture and incorporating migrants into society. The further settlement policy moved away from White Australia the greater the tensions in society became, witnessing the advent of Pauline Hanson and the Cronulla riots. It became an issue of how the nation might survive that process, and remain viable.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- 1. Survival strategies: assimilation and integration -- 2. Multiculturalism: unifying strategy or threat to the nation? -- 3. Survival of Anglo-Australian culture -- 4. From Hanson to Cronulla -- Conclusion


Includes bibliography June 2010

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis masters research


Thesis (MPhil), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Dept. of Modern History, Politics, International Relations and Security

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alison Holland


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Christopher John Naylor 2010.






253 leaves ill. (chiefly col.)

Former Identifiers

mq:20131 1560202