Diggers failing to become diggers: Mining as National Discourse

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Mining has in recent years emerged as a national discourse in Australia as the combined result of the mining boom and national anxieties over the GFC featured prominently in references to Australia as a failed competitive state (the folding of manufacturing, where the closure of car factories plays a particular iconic role, not to mention perpetually troubled Qantas). Yet mining is not new to Australia, but has been pivotal to the country’s demographic growth post-settlement/post-invasion. Arguably, mining’s boom and bust cycles have given it at times a disproportionate influence on narratives of the nation during its boom years, including the most recent one. Yet, this overt focus would have to be measured against mining’s lacklustre appeal after the inevitable bust, where its prior disproportionate influence becomes obvious – even embarrassingly so. The cycles of appearance and disappearance of mining as a national discourse beg the question how we might begin to assess mining’s actual long-term influence on the national imaginary. Two quite recent interventions – possibly at the tail end of another boom cycle – have sought to address how the ‘story of mining’ as a national narrative could be told: The SBS three part documentary series, Dirty Business (2013), and Malcolm Knox’s Boom: The Underground History of Australia, from Gold Rush to GFC (2013). My paper seeks to look at how these narratives project mining’s importance for the national imaginary, and how this projection may be related to the broader issue of how mining relates to the question of the society Australia wants to be – on the scale from ecological sanctuary to global quarry.
Publikationsdato24 sep. 2014
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - 24 sep. 2014
BegivenhedThe 2014 International Conference of the European Association for Studies on Australia (EASA): Encountering Australia: Transcultural Conversations - Monash University Centre, Prato, Prato, Italien
Varighed: 24 sep. 201426 sep. 2014


KonferenceThe 2014 International Conference of the European Association for Studies on Australia (EASA)
LokationMonash University Centre, Prato
AndetEuropean Australian Studies Association


  • nation narration, multiculturalism, SBS documentary, Dirty Business,

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