Year

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Humanities and Social Inquiry

Abstract

The Australian national flag is the primary symbol of the nation. The flag produces and reproduces national identity through its presence in all spheres of the public domain. This thesis is an examination into the national flag’s representational force. It focuses on how the flag makes meaning in accordance with dominant discourses of nation and nationhood through an analysis of its uses and applications across a range of institutional sites. The thesis also takes into consideration the meaning-making potential of the national flag for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This work deploys a wide-range of historical and contemporary sources that include art and literary responses to the flag. The thesis also draws on a range of theoretical works on nation alongside the use of vexillology as a focused study of flags. A critique of the messages and meanings that the Australian national flag transmits raises important questions pertaining to the way the nation is constructed and maintained. While the thesis does not proffer a definitive solution to the many complexities surrounding Australian national identity, it offers the opportunity for further study as debates about changing the flag continue to circulate in the public sphere.

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