Citizenship refers to the status of someone recognized by law as belonging to the state or nation. Although the category of Australian citizenship was only created after World War II, by the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, ideas of membership of what we now term Australia are much older.
Citizenship is also a social and cultural category, a sentiment of national belonging that includes some and excludes others. How have changing conceptions of citizenship been pictured over time, and to whom do they speak? Images have power in conveying the imagined boundaries, responsibilities and entitlements of citizenship, both domestically and to the rest of the world.
What rights and responsibilities are presumed or denied by ideas of citizenship, and what scope and limits of national belonging do they imply? This project aims to investigate these questions through the power of historical and contemporary images of Australian citizenship.
Envisaging Citizenship: Australian Histories and Global Connections examines how images have historically and culturally defined, contested and advanced notions of what makes a ‘civil’ Australian. In collaboration with Museum Victoria's Immigration Museum this Australian Research Council project (DP200100088) is being conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide and Monash University. Generating a new visual history of Australian citizenship, its findings will be explored and shared through scholarly publication, produced media, forums and educational materials. A digital database of images and other resources will form a rich collection to spark wide public engagement and impact, stimulating debate and understanding around contemporary issues of national identity, community rights and personal belonging.