From Pacific to traffic islands: challenging Australia’s colonial use of the ocean through creative protest

  • Nadine El-Enany, Dr University of London, United Kingdom
  • Sarah Keenan University of London, United Kingdom
Keywords: Australia House, Protest, Manus, Nauru, Space

Abstract

The Australian High Commission in London, located in an imposing, heritage-listed building known as Australia House, works to project a positive national image in its colonial motherland. Australia House has been the subject of a number of creative protests which utilise the building’s location on a traffic island to draw attention to Australia’s colonial use of the ocean as part of its ongoing mission to reign supreme as a white island in the otherwise racialised south Pacific. The protests draw attention to the violence Australia seeks to conceal in the distant island refugee prison camps on Manus and Nauru, and use the place of Australia House in the heart of London to “bring home” the historical colonial dimensions of Australia as a place today. Reading the protests through the lens of critical geography and legal history, we argue that the protests work to disrupt the business of the Australian High Commission by maneuvering the physical space of and around Australia House such that they memorialize, expose and interrupt the racist violence which the High Commission seeks to hide.

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Published
2019-05-24
Section
Articles