One People? A Visual Language of Australian Citizenship

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Abstract

After World War II the legal category of Australian citizenship was created through the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, but continued to overlap with British status. A ‘new language’ of photography actively constituted ideas about Australian citizenship through three interlocking discourses centring on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a new assimilationist policy for Australia’s Indigenous people, and a migration program which advanced a powerful visual language of whiteness. The universalising language of the ‘family of man’ took on distinctive vernacular forms as officials sought to define an ‘Australian way of life’ through new photographic formats, including pamphlets, highly-illustrated periodicals, and media stories. As mapped by these visual projects, the universalising and inclusive rhetoric of human rights shaped international aspirations as well as Australian assimilation policy during these postwar years, yet both featured notable ‘blind spots’, or exclusions, that define the limits of citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-298
Number of pages25
JournalAustralian Historical Studies
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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