Song and dance

Song and dance

Australia’s Asia: From Yellow Peril to Asian Century

edited by David Walker and Agnieszka Sobocinska

UWA Publishing, $39.95 pb, 384 pp, 9781742583495

The launch last October of the Gillard government’s White Paper Australia in the Asian Century was quite a show; in Pakistan it would have been called a tamasha – to use the lovely Urdu word for a song and dance. A flock of officials, business figures, commentators, and consultants looked grave and prophetic as they preached the importance of Asia – as if it were a new idea (their own). But as the editors of Australia’s Asia point out in their introductory chapter, ‘we have been here before’. The significance of Asia to modern Australia has been clear ever since the first ship from Bengal arrived in the infant settlement of Sydney in 1791. And it is now increasingly clear that the effects of contact with Asia on Aboriginal Australia were also considerable. While the degree of Asia’s importance may have varied, the fact of that importance is a constant.

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Published in September 2013 no. 354
Nicholas Hordern

Nicholas Hordern

Nick Hordern took an Arts degree at the University of Sydney, concentrating on Indian history and Islamic studies, before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs. As well as postings in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, his public service career included stints in the Office of National Assessments and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. For five years he worked in Parliament House Canberra as a political staffer and journalist, then for fifteen years he was an editor and senior writer with the Australian Financial Review in Sydney. He now lives on the South Coast of New South Wales.

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