A Discussion of the Strengths and Limitations of Richard White's Thesis.

Essay by evilcandyUniversity, Bachelor's September 2004

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The following essay will discuss the strengths and limitations presented by Richard White (Images of Australia) regarding the factors that have contributed to the making of the Australian national identity. Focussing the essay on the Anzac legend, this essay will be approached and supported with the appropriate supporting evidence and as this paper proposes that the answer is based on opinion, the use of some non-academic references will be included.

A suitable starting point for this essay is to state the fact that if one was to argue the classification of "national identity", it would not be as simple as looking up a dictionary and finding a single definition. The Online Plain Text English Dictionary defines "national" as attached to one's own country or nation and "identity" as the condition of being the same with something described or asserted, or of possessing a character claimed (Dictionary).

The word identity has a significant meaning in the contemporary world.

It means more than being an independent nation or a geographical location. It is almost certainly true that Australians, more so than others, are a people sceptical of symbolic gestures. This is why constructions of an Australian national identity are based upon a process of exclusion that is underwritten by the social relations of power. Issues of identity are central to many historical and current debates in Australia.

Richards White's thesis about processes of image making can be summarised as follows:

There was no moment when, for the first time, Australia was seen 'as it really was'. There is no 'real' Australia waiting to be uncovered. A national identity is an invention (Study Guide HUM1006, p.24).

What White is arguing, is that a national identity is not describing the land or the people for that matter, its giving Australia individuality or personality.