Dr Tim Soutphommasane presents‘Australian Engagement With Asia: A Patriotic Perspective’

Australian engagement with Asia remains a perennial question in the national conversation. At times, engagement has been understood as directly implicating national identity: to be enmeshed in Asia, perhaps as an Australian republic, was to be an emphatic statement of national maturity. Yet more recently, any ideal of cultural engagement have been superseded by more economic ambitions, as Australia enjoys a commodities boom fuelled by Asian demand. In addition to a cultural-economic divide, public sentiment towards Asia has been shaped by a view of our neighbours as variously a source of prosperity and a source of danger. Although patriotism has often been regarded as encouraging exclusion and protectionism, this paper argues a patriotic perspective can shed light on how Australians can bridge the divide between cultural and economic engagement, and between fear and opportunity.