The power of images in shaping Australia

Sunbaker, by Dianne Jones (2003) © Dianne Jones/Copyright Agency, 2020

What role have images played in defining, interrogating, challenging or reimagining Australian citizenship?

How do Australian citizenship rights relate to human rights?

How have the meanings of citizenship endured or shifted over time?

Today, what roles do images play in defining, demarcating, and challenging citizenship and rights?

Photographs and illustrations have helped create shared understandings of citizenship in Australia, from colonisation through to the present. Whether formally or informally, debates around citizenship from the eighteenth century onwards have been fundamental in disseminating the rights and responsibilities of the ideal citizen: publicly and personally, nationally and locally. Reflecting cultural values and views, images can also convey a set of beliefs around what makes someone recognisable as an Australian citizen, both at home and to the rest of the world. 

This Australian Research Council supported project will produce the first systematic historical analysis of the significance of images in defining and challenging conceptions of citizenship in Australia.



Save the date: ‘Envisaging Citizenship’ International symposium

Monash University, Caulfield campus

Date: Monday 27 November 2023Location: Monash University, Caulfield campus.The conditions of citizenship are often taken for granted: a citizen is a legally recognized member of a state or commonwealth, and citizenship permits access to equal civil, political, and social rights. Yet citizenship always implies histories of inclusion and exclusion. …

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In collaboration with Museum Victoria's Immigration Museum and supported with an Australian Research Council discovery project grant (Envisaging Citizenship: Australia Histories and Global Connections), this work  explores the  significance of images in defining and challenging conceptions of citizenship in Australia.  

Image: Immigration Museum at Old Customs House Melbourne. Courtesy Museums Victoria

Click here to access the Immigration Museum's Project Webpage