National Identity – French and Australian perspectives*
You are invited to the next Melbourne Salon at the Alliance Française
7-9pm, Thursday December 9th 2010
In 2009 President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a great debate on what it means to be French. He invited citizens to help define what it means to be French and sparked heated discussions on immigration and the outlawing of the burqa. Controversy continues over the orientation given to national identity by the creation of a Ministry of Immigration and National Identity in his first government and his project for a Museum of the History of France.
In Australia as in France, history, memory and commemoration are mobilised in the contemporary search for the values of national identity; we regularly discuss the place of Gallipoli and the Anzacs in the national psyche. Multiculturalism in Australian is best summed up by the popular phrase: “we are one, but we are many”. In France, the nation is considered to be “one and indivisible” – founded on assimilation principles.
Dr Elizabeth Rechniewski will talk about Sarkozy's nationalism in the context of the centuries-old debate over the nature of the French nation and citizenship. Dr Tim Soutphommasane will talk about his book Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives and the challenge to Australians to embrace a generous love of country that avoids the narrowness and exclusion many associate with flag-waving nationalism.
Dr Elizabeth Rechniewski is Senior Lecturer in the School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney. She has a long-standing research interest in nationalism and nation-building in France, including as Chief Investigator on the ARC Discovery project: ‘National Identity and Communications in Early Modern France’. She has researched and published widely on French intellectuals and engagement, including Antécédents littéraires de l’existentialisme: Suarès, Malraux et Sartre (Minard) and Sartre’s Nausea: Text, Context and Intertext (with Alistair Rolls, Rodopi). She has recently collaborated on a project coordinated by Professor Olivier Wieviorka, a comparative study of the significance of commemoration in contemporary national life. («Gallipoli: invention et réinvention d’une tradition australienne» Vingtième siècle n.101, janvier-mars 2009).
Dr Tim Soutphommasane is a political theorist, commentator and the author of Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives, which was shortlisted for a NSW Premier’s Literary Award 2010. Tim is research fellow at Monash University's National Centre for Australian Studies, senior project leader with the Per Capita think-tank, and columnist with The Weekend Australian newspaper. He worked on the speechwriting staff of former New South Wales premier Bob Carr and on the staff of Kevin Rudd during the 2007 federal election campaign. Tim was born in France, migrated to Australia when he was 3 years old and was raised in the southwest suburbs of Sydney. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in political theory from the University of Oxford.
Professor Graeme Davison is a Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor in the School of Historical Studies at Monash University. He has taught at the Universities of Melbourne, Monash, and Harvard, where he was Visiting Professor of Australian Studies. He is the author of many books and publications, the most recent of which is Narrating the Nation in Australia (2010), which was the Menzies Lecture in 2009 at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, Kings’ College, London. He has been working on issues of Australian nationalism and identity, and in 2007 convened a conference in London on Australian and British debates on citizenship.
Cover charge payable on the night (includes cheese and wine) – cash only please: $22
AF / ISFAR / AFTV Members, students and seniors: $15
Bookings essential: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Numbers limited.)