Occupying the “Other”: Australia and Military Occupations from Japan to Iraq
Editor: Christine de Matos and Robin Gerster
Date Of Publication: Mar 2009
In late 1945, Australia eagerly put up its hand to join the American-led military occupation of war-devastated Japan: the old enemy was still hated, yet the Australian involvement was motivated by ideals of democratic reconstruction rather than retribution. In the age of Iraq, when Australia has again participated in a US occupation of a “rogue” non-Western state humbled in war, it is time to consider troubling questions surrounding the nation’s engagement in contentious overseas occupations. Can Western conceptions of democracy be imposed militarily on other societies? To what extent has Australia’s willingness to support the United States been an expression of independent policy-making or meek acquiescence in the neocolonial imperatives of the global superpower? How do occupations differ? When does “intervention” become “occupation”? To what extent are entrenched cultural attitudes to race and religion a factor in decisions to occupy, and on how these occupations are perceived at home? And how has the Australian media influenced public attitudes to these ventures?
This collection of essays by leading Australian academics and commentators places Australia’s historical role as an occupier on the critical map. Now, as the country juggles complex national, regional and international alliances and obligations, this conversation is as compelling as it is belated.
Christine de Matos is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies (CAPSTRANS) at the University of Wollongong, where she is currently writing a social history of the Australian role in the Allied Occupation of Japan (1946-1952) using gender, race and class to elucidate the power dynamics of the occupier-occupied relationship. Her book on Australian diplomacy and the Occupation, Imposing Peace and Prosperity: Australia, Social Justice and Labour Reform in Occupied Japan (2008) is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing.
Robin Gerster is Associate Professor in the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies at Monash University, and was Visiting Professor of Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo during the 1990s. He is the author of several books, including Big-noting: The Heroic Theme in Australian War Writing (1987) and Legless in Ginza: Orientating Japan (1999), and has published extensively in Australia and abroad. His latest book is Travels in Atomic Sunshine: Australia and the Occupation of Japan (Scribe, 2008).
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Sample pdf (including Table of Contents)