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Changing views of war and citizenship

28 JUNE 2004

The changing view of citizenship in times of war - the conflicting loyalties and internment of enemies - is being examined in a symposium at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra this week.

War and Citizenship in 20th-Century Australia on Saturday, 3 July, explores how the concept of ideal citizenship changes markedly during conflict.

National Museum curator Mat Trinca said the remarkable story of Australian internment would be unravelled by leading historians and scholars including Professor Joan Beaumont from Deakin University and convenor Ilma O'Brien from Victoria University.

'It is fascinating to see how the nation reacts on the home front when its existence is threatened by war,' said Mr Trinca. 'There's a delineation of insiders and outsiders in the national community and we see lines drawn more strongly between groups of people.

'It's been a powerful trend through the 20th-century and we are seeing it today during the War on Terror. In moments of collective threat or stress, we see the national character drawn more keenly, more deliberately expressed.'

Highlights of the War and Citizenship symposium include:

  • The Anzac citizen: How the RSL influenced attitudes on civic status and has been seen as a political pressure group. Martin Crotty, University of Queensland.
  • Australian citizens interned in Japan: The experiences of Australians interned during World War Two and the Australian Government's reaction to calls for compensation. Christina Twomey, Monash University.
  • Academic aliens: The experience of 15 Germans interned during World War Two and the culture of the universities which both ostracised and defended them. David Henderson, Victoria University.

Free public forum: Stories from Internment, Sunday, July 4, 11am-12.30pm, Studio. Three Australians share the profound impact on them and their families of being labelled enemy aliens and interned in World War Two.

The day long symposium is being held at the National Museum of Australia on Saturday in a partnership with Victoria University and the National Archives of Australia.

For interviews, images or more information please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au