Year

2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies, School of History and Politics - Faculty of Arts

Abstract

Japan and Australia are generally understood as very different countries in terms of culture, history and ethnicity. However, if we focus on their formation as modern nation states they are contemporaries and their similarities become visible. Under the influence of European and American imperial/colonial expansion, they both became modern nation states around the turn of the last century. As a result of being latecomers to the Western dominated international community they both developed an “inferiority complex” in relation to the West. This made them appear ambiguous within in the context of Asia where they geographically belong. Their ambiguous national identities are aptly represented in the reading of Edward W. Said by Japanese and Australian intellectuals. In a world which Said described being dichotomous and hierarchical, they float between the Orient and the Occident. Their ambiguous identities troubled by an inferiority complex are well reflected in their behaviour in the international arena. On the one hand, as frontrunners in the region in terms of modernity, they act in a superior manner towards neighbouring Asian countries. On the other hand, they tend to be connected to strong countries in the West. Japan and Australia’s closeness in recent years can be explained as an outcome of their similarly ambiguous position in the world. They are still captured by the rhetoric of colonialism and imperialism and in this sense they have not yet been fully “decolonised”.

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