“A Monroe Doctrine of Our Own”: The Ideological Origins of the Australian Antarctic

When:7 Aug 2018, 12:30pm - 1:45pm
Venue:Room 310, Morven Brown Building, Kensington Campus
Who:Dr Rohan Howitt, University of Sydney
Rohan Howitt

Abstract: This paper examines the ideological origins of Australia’s claims to sovereignty and influence in the Antarctic and subantarctic region. It seeks to go beyond existing historiographies of the legal and diplomatic origins of Australia’s interest in the region by considering the ideas that made it possible for Australians to imagine the Antarctic as an Australian space. In particular, it examines the ways in which ideas of a unique Australian interest in the Antarctic fused with the broader idea of an Australian ‘Monroe Doctrine’ that called for foreign powers to be excluded from an Australian sphere of interest stretching across the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. The paper examines the genealogies of these ideas and argues that their significance has been underestimated. It suggests that the idea of an Australian Monroe Doctrine played a significant role in the federation movement, in the expansionist policies of the Australian Commonwealth, and in the acquisition of the Australian Antarctic Territory in 1933.

Rohan Howitt (University of Sydney) is an early-career researcher working on the history of Australian interest in the Antarctic region.

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