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In 1956 Bernard Smith wrote that we in Australia were migratory birds. This was to become a leading motif of his own thinking, and a significant inspiration for sociologist Peter Beilharz. Beilharz came to argue that the idea of the antipodes made sense less in its geographical than its cultural form, viewed as a relation rather than a place. Australians had one foot here and one there, whichever ‘there’ this was. This way of thinking with and after Bernard Smith makes up one current of Beilharz’s best Australian essays. Two other streams contribute to the collection.The second recovers and publicises antipodean intellectuals, from Childe to Evatt to Stretton to Jean Martin, who have often been overshadowed here by the reception given to metropolitan celebrity thinkers; and examines others, like Hughes and Carey, who have been celebrated as writers more than as interpreters of the antipodean condition. The third stream engages with mainstream views of Australian writing, and with the limits of these views. If we think in terms of cultural traffic, then the stories we tell about Australia will also be global and regional in a broader sense. Australia is the result of cultural traffic, local and global.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PETER BEILHARZ is Professor of Culture and
Society at Curtin University. For many years he
was Professor of Sociology and Director of the
Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology at
La Trobe University. He has published 24 books
and 200 papers across five continents. His major
works include Imagining the Antipodes (1997)
and Sociology – Antipodean Perspectives, with
Trevor Hogan (2012). He has been affiliated
with Harvard, Yale and Leeds universities, and
in 2015 will work at the Stellenbosch Institute
for Advanced Study in South Africa (STIAS)
with Sian Supski.
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