Cultivating an Australian sentiment

John Christian Watson's narrative of White nationalism

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary observers and historians have interpreted Australia's first Labor Prime Minister, John Christian Watson, as an ideal leader for Labor's early participation in nation-building following the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. Little attention has been paid to the values Watson brought to Labor's participation in nation-building. Race, defence and the 'cultivation of an Australian sentiment' formed the recurring themes of Watson's national narrative. Compelled by a need to fix an identity from the peripheral territories of empire as a British subject and the leader of white Australians in a nation, as he claimed, that 'we have made our own', Watson's narrative provides insights into the anxieties of racialised white identity in the federation period - an identity tested by conflicting class and national loyalties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-368
Number of pages18
JournalNational Identities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Defence
  • Narrative Theory
  • Nationalism
  • Race
  • White Australia policy

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