Australia: Transnational or Transnation?


  • Bill Ashcroft University of NSW


Nation, transnational, transnation, postcolonial, netizens, public sphere


The world is now characterised by unprecedented global mobility and the corresponding hysterical protection of national borders. Australianists have begun to investigate Australia’s place in this scene of border crossing and mobility, both in terms of the crossing of Australia’s own borders and the transnational identity of Australian writing. On the face of it the ‘transnational’ character of the Australian population may be supported by its diverse origins, its propensity to travel, and by its government’s necessary engagement both with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and those powerful states whose relationship must be carefully balanced. However this paper proposes a different way of approaching this issue, in the concept of the Transnation, which is composed of the everyday movements of national subjects around the structures of the state. The term ‘transnation’ refers to much more than ‘the international’, or ‘the transnational’, which might rather be conceived as a relation between states, a crossing of borders or a cultural or political interplay between national cultures. The transnation is the circulation of populations around the structures of the state. Consequently, literature, the repository of cultural memory, so often misconceived in national terms, may be seen to be the province of the transnation.



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