Wandering Scholars in Europe. "Departures: How Australia Reinvents Itself", by Xavier Pons (ed). [review]
For all their purposes, ‘Australian Studies’ remains comfortably undefined. This collection, coming out of the 1999 EASA conference in Toulouse, suggests almost unbounded accommodation. Large themes are stated at the outset, beginning with George Seddon’s discussion of issues for the future of the Pilbara, and Keith McConnochie’s argument for sophisticated innovation on the parts of indigenous Australia’s ice-age ancestors. Macroeconomics, natural resources, tourism, the critique of stereotypes for the near and distant past: these are promising paths into the Australian complex of problems, but they’re not followed further. There are good papers in feminist history (Jane Carey and Ellen Warne), on immigrant writing (Wenche Ommundsen and Donald Pulford), and on cultural policy and cultural objects. By contrast, the literary essays, which make up nearly half the book, often seem cooked-up and strained.