Australian foreign policy and news media: National identity and the sale of uranium to India and China
Friday, 29 April
Stretton Room, Level 4 Napier Building
Based on a recent article in the Australian Journal of Political Science, this paper explores the utility of a constructivist-media communications approach to understanding the production of national identity in Australia through a case study of the Australian Labor Party’s 2011 decision to allow uranium sales to India. The decision came at a time when Australian foreign policy, political debate and news media discourse were increasingly concerned with India and China, as ‘rising’ superpowers whose prominence offered opportunities for economic prosperity even as it undermined settled regional power balances. This article finds that, rather than a matter of rational strategy, the decision was made in a context of considerable anxiety about the ‘Asian century’ as the Australian public, politicians and policymakers struggled to comprehend geopolitical change. It further argues that the constructivist project in international relations can benefit from engaging with insights from media and communications methodologies and by taking a less hierarchical approach to ‘elite’ and ‘non-elite’ discursive agency.