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The march to nation: citizenship, education, and the Australian way of life in New South Wales, Australia, 1940s‐1960s

Lorna McLean (Associate professor and Director of Graduate Studies, anglophone sector, at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)

History of Education Review

ISSN: 0819-8691

Article publication date: 24 June 2008



This article probes the dimensions of a newly constructed, modern citizenship within the context of post‐war tensions between a national history that recognised and asserted sexual, racial, and cultural differences and an assimilationist state drive that enshrined one law and one way of life. In particular, I address the question of what we can learn about gender and race relations and their relationship to national identities and citizenship by studying government and educational policies and publications. As recent scholarship on education and citizenship has observed, issues surrounding national identity/identities, citizenship, and education in Australia were critical to state formation from the late 1940s to the 1960s. This research has done much to expand our understanding of the pedagogical and curriculum components of citizenship education and the central role of teachers within the education enterprise. As well, other scholars have informed our understanding of the related processes of post‐war social adjustment of young people. This article draws on a range of theories and perspectives from post‐colonial literature, cultural and performance studies, and critical ‘race’ and feminist theories to analyse the texts and images. A discourse analysis of these documents highlight the complex and competing forms of identity/identities, colonialism, ‘race’, and gender. In particular, I address the following questions: First, what representations of modern young citizens were featured as part of the ‘Australian way of life’ in both state education policies and publications? Second, in what ways were gender and ‘race’ constitutive of Australian citizenship? Third, how do the images and texts in these publications manifest the multiple performances of education in the 1950s and 1960s? Although this study focuses on education reforms, the results of the research speak to wider issues of historical representation, gender, and culture and the complicated relationship between state policy, nationalism, and reform.



McLean, L. (2008), "The march to nation: citizenship, education, and the Australian way of life in New South Wales, Australia, 1940s‐1960s", History of Education Review, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 34-47.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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