Feeling good? Pride, shame, and being Australian
In recent years, discussions of national identity—let alone national pride—have become entia non grata, or off limits, in many circles. The topic appears to have fallen victim to a reductive ‘you’re either with us or against us’ binary which, at this point, seems impenetrable. Over the past year, I’ve been actively reflecting on how these discussions play out in Australian culture. What follows is a personal essay - cum-academic paper documenting my effort to come to terms with my national pride in an age of progressive politics. It’s about rejecting the cultural cringe, drunk colonists, forehand volleys, and finding the sound of one’s own accent comforting. Ultimately, I ask whether feelings of national pride are morally defensible, and if there’s a way to talk about being Australian that doesn’t succumb to the crude dichotomy between pride and shame that is so endemic in the broader cultural discourse. Through engagement with both academic texts and reflections on personal experiences, I suggest that, poststructuralist notions of ‘imagined communities’ notwithstanding, there are things about being Australian that might still be worth celebrating, in spite of our fraught, complicated history.