Inventing Australia: Images and Identity, 1688-1980, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 1981
Pioneering work in Australian cultural history, roughly chronological but also thematic.
“To be Australian”: what can that mean? Inventing Australia sets out to find the answers by tracing the images we have used to describe our land and our people – the convict hell, the workingman’s paradise, the Bush legend, the “typical” Australian from the shearer to the Bondi lifesaver, the land of opportunity, the small rich industrial country, the multicultural society. The book argues that these images, rather than describing an especially Australian reality, grow out of assumptions about nature, race, class, democracy, sex and empire, and are “invented” to serve the interests of particular groups. (blurb)
Not mentioned above but with a chapter to itself is the image of ‘diggers and heroes’. The book has led to much comment since. A much later book on the same subject is reviewed here. White’s argument is considered here 25 and here 30 years on.