Australia and the World: a festschrift for Neville Meaney

24 June 2013

Neville Meaney

A book celebrating the groundbreaking work of Neville Meaney, Honorary Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Sydney, will be launched by Dennis Richardson, Secretary of the Department of Defence and former Ambassador to the United States, at the Australian Institute of International Affairs in Canberra on Monday, 24 June, 2013.

Australia and the World: a festschrift for Neville Meaney, edited by Joan Beaumont and Matthew Jordan (Sydney University Press), celebrates the profound influence of Associate Professor Meaney in the study, teaching and application of foreign relations in Australia.

His former students include such illustrious figures as Paul Kelly, editor-at-large with The Australian, the ABC radio and television presenter Eleanor Hall, the Government Whip in the NSW Legislative Council, Dr Peter Phelps, and the former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, John Dauth.

Contributors to the volume include historians, foreign relations practitioners and political commentators, many of whom were taught by Meaney at the University of Sydney. The book includes chapters on the interaction between geopolitics, culture and ideology in shaping Australian and American approaches to the world.

Other chapters examine major themes that informed Meaney's work, including the sources and nature of Australia's British identity; the hapless, if dedicated, efforts of Australian politicians, public servants and intellectuals to reconcile this intense cultural identity with Australia's strategic anxieties in the Asia-Pacific region; and the sense of trauma created when the myth of 'Britishness' collapsed under the weight of new historical circumstances in the 1960s.

The book will be launched in conjunction with a volume of selected essays by Associate Professor Meaney on topics such as racial discrimination and immigration, the evolution of Australia's Pacific policy, the Cold War, doubts about the American alliance, the Communist threat and relations with Asia, notably Japan.

Since the 1960s Neville Meaney has been asking probing questions about social change and the rise of nationalism. His efforts to unravel what he once called 'the riddle of Australian nationalism' have raised important, and often unsettling, challenges for Australians.

Bringing together the cultural, intellectual, political and diplomatic dimensions of the national experience, Meaney's work has been dominated by two overarching and interconnected questions: how Australians should resolve the tension between the 'community of culture' and the 'community of interest', and how they should reconcile their British heritage with their Asian moorings.

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