Walker, David: Anxious nation

Walker, David

Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise and Fall of Asia 1850-1939, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld, 1999

From the late nineteenth century the Asianisation of Australia has sparked anxious comment. The great catchcries of the day . . . the awakening East . . . the yellow peril . . . populate or perish . . .had a direct bearing on how Australians viewed their future. (blurb)

‘One of the remarkable features of Australian history is the periodic rediscovery of our proximity to Asia’. (p. 1)

Was Australia destined to be European, Asian or Aboriginal? This book impressively combines the personal and the political; it makes sense of spatial and racial anxieties by exploring Australians’ broader sense of their region. Drawing on history, science and literature, David Walker tells of Australia’s real and imagined encounters with Asia. He provides us with a deep perspective on our current debates overpopulation, environmental limits, multiculturalism and the legitimacy of Australian settlement. (Tom Griffiths review)

The book aroused considerable interest when it was published. It is analysed here and a review is here. Further, later thoughts by the author on the subject are here.

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