This book explores the relationship between political memories of migration and the politics of migration, following over two hundred years of commemorating Australia Day. References to Europeans’ original migration to the continent have been engaged in social and political conflicts to define who should belong to Australian society, who should gain access, and based on what criteria. These political memories were instrumental in negotiating inherent conflicts in the formation of the Australian Commonwealth from settler colonies to an immigrant society. By the second half of the twentieth century, the Commonwealth employed Australia Day commemorations specifically to incorporate new arrivals, promoting at first citizenship and, later on, multiculturalism. The commemoration has been contested throughout its history based on two distinct forms of political memories providing conflicting modes of civic and communal belonging to Australian politics and policies of migration. Introducing the concept of Political Memories, this book offers a novel understanding of the social and political role of memories, not only in regard to migration.
“What makes memories political, and what does politics do to memory? In this important book, Olaf Kleist develops the concept of political memory to understand the role of memory in migration, and vice versa. This is an enormously sophisticated work of both high theory and close empirical analysis, and makes an outstanding contribution to the growing field of memory studies, with implications far beyond the issue (migration) and case (Australia) it examines.” (Professor Jeffrey Olick, University of Virginia)
“In this book Olaf Kleist has produced a tour de force for migration historians and theorists of memory alike. He brings a fresh German perspective to the key debates about remembrance, migration and belonging in Australia by exploring the history of Australia Day commemoration from a political science perspective. By using a concept called ‘political memory’ he not only explores the inherently political nature of remembering but also the way memories have impact in various political arenas across time, such as government policies and practice, and how these in turn influence memory work in the present. In doing so he makes a vital contribution to the contemporary concerns about how we imagine ‘belonging’ in the increasingly culturally diverse societies of the world in the twenty-first century.” (Professor Paula Hamilton, UTS Sydney