Beggs-Sunter, Anne: Eureka

Beggs-Sunter, Anne

Eureka: gathering “the oppressed of all nations”‘, Journal of Australian Cultural History, 10, 1, 2008

Over the last one hundred and fifty years, the meaning of the Eureka Stockade has been characterised in different ways. To some it has been the birthplace of Australian democracy, to others the germ of republicanism, or the cradle of the labour movement. Eureka can also be celebrated as an early expression or example of internationalism in Australia…

Issues of race, gender and class have always been fundamental to discussions about the meaning of Eureka. They were certainly important to the militant diggers of 1854 who fought to achieve a new political order based on justice and equality. Certainly the language of the protest movement can be read as all embracing, although in practice there were exclusions to the definition of ‘citizen’. Women were not included, Aboriginal people were not included, nor were ‘heathens’ who did not subscribe to Chartist principles, which were firmly based in the European Enlightenment. This article traces changing perceptions of equality after Eureka, and discusses how different protest groups have adopted its symbolism for conflicting purposes. (abstract)

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