David Walker’s new book Stranded Nation: White Australia in an Asian Region is reviewed for JCA by Kanishka Jayasuriya of Politics and International Studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. The book is published by UWA Press.
Following from Walker’s earlier works, this book is about “Australia’s engagement from the mid-twentieth century to the early 1970s. This period saw the unfolding of the Cold War, the period of decolonisation, and the British withdrawal from Asia, and Australia’s participation in a new set of political and military alliances with the USA.”
The book is:
… organised through “windows” into key personalities and events which are entertaining and interesting in themselves. The personalities – both within Australia and those looking at Australia from outside – spring out of the pages. The various players in this complex situation may have been constrained by diplomatic protocol, the boundaries of academic and journalistic practices, and the strictures of racially inflected world views, but these personalities have not been reducible to these constraints. They invariably manage to leave their own distinctive stamp on the story of Australia and Asia.
The reviewer identifies two important themes that run through Walker’s previous volume – Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise of Asia 1850 to 1939 and the new book: “First, is that the representation of the region as being in, and out of, Asia shaped national anxieties, fears, insecurities and hopes.” The second is race and “particularly the idea of white prestige. Race was imbricated in the representation of the region and this is an important cornerstone of Australia’s emerging diplomatic relationships and foreign policy.”
Jayasuriya commends the book: “This is a well-crafted volume written with a deft hand. It covers an enormous range of topics, personalities and events which will serve a broad range of interests – academic and non-academic. It is one of those rare academic books that is entertaining and readable.”