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The Unsentimental Nation? Early Commemoration of the Aust Commonwealth

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ANU College of Business & Economics LT3 Allan Barton Forum

CBE Building 26C, Kingsley St.

Acton, ACT 2601

Australia

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A conversation with Carolyn Holbrook

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Scholars have disagreed about the degree of sentiment that propelled the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. Was Federation a cynical deal designed to further the economic interests of the wealthy and privileged, at the expense of the working classes, women, Indigenous people and other non-white Australians? Or was it the achievement of idealistic founders who were pursuing a sacred ideal of nationhood, as John Hirst argued in The Sentimental Nation? This talk examines the nature of early debates about commemoration of the anniversary of Federation. I will argue that the lack of sentimental attachment to the Federation is evident in widespread indifference towards its anniversary from the very earliest years after 1901. It suggests that Australians’ longstanding resistance to reform of the Federation is linked to their historic lack of attachment to it. is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow in the Contemporary Histories Research Group at Deakin University. She is the author of Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography (New South, 2014), and the co-editor with Keir Reeves of The Great War: Aftermath and Commemoration (UNSW Press, 2019). Carolyn is the director of Australian Policy and History and co-editor of the Journal of Australian Studies. She is currently writing a history of Australians’ attitudes towards their federation.

Carolyn Holbrook is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow in the Contemporary Histories Research Group at Deakin University. She is the author of Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography (NewSouth, 2014), and the co-editor with Keir Reeves of The Great War: Aftermath and Commemoration (UNSW Press, 2019). Carolyn is the director of Australian Policy and History and co-editor of the Journal of Australian Studies. She is currently writing a history of Australians’ attitudes towards their federation.

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ANU College of Business & Economics LT3 Allan Barton Forum

CBE Building 26C, Kingsley St.

Acton, ACT 2601

Australia

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