Agitators and Patriots: Cultural and Political Identity in Queensland's Spanish Communities, 1900-1975

Robert Mason (2008). Agitators and Patriots: Cultural and Political Identity in Queensland's Spanish Communities, 1900-1975 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Robert Mason
Thesis Title Agitators and Patriots: Cultural and Political Identity in Queensland's Spanish Communities, 1900-1975
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2008-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Clive Moore
Andrew Bonnell
Total pages 356
Total colour pages 23
Total black and white pages 333
Subjects 430000 History and Archaeology
Abstract/Summary Abstract In 1900 there were fewer than a dozen Spaniards in Queensland, most of whom were transient labourers from Victoria. By 1975 there were several thousand Spaniards, of which the majority had travelled directly to Queensland to settle permanently. The thesis uses a chronological structure to trace the development of Spanish political and cultural identities in Queensland over the seventy-five year period. Early settlers were strongly influenced by radical anarchism, and were engaged in ideological debates and Queensland industrial disputes that referenced patterns of behaviour throughout the Hispanic world. Later settlers were predominantly Basques, and used political associations and cultural events to project their identity and to engage with Queensland society. Queensland’s Spanish communities were never defined simply in terms of ethnicity, nationality or political persuasion. Their cultural and political identity was the product of dynamic interactions between social narratives and transnational and local spaces. Spanish identities were the result of an ongoing and complex dialogue between experiences in Spain and Queensland, which channelled migrants’ memories and expectations. Spaniards were deeply involved in Queensland politics for the entire period of their settlement. Their engagement involved the application and modification of Spanish models of political and cultural action to the Queensland environment. Memories and behaviours were re-articulated through a dialogue that referenced events in Queensland and Spain, and debated their future implications to the local communities. The thesis does not try to separate migrants’ political and cultural identity. Cultural norms enacted in Queensland provided models to achieve both political and social goals in Australia and Spain. Later migrants used ethnic networks to assert their cultural difference, in processes that often had clear political implications. Queenslanders were tolerant of what were seen as folk cultures, and were rarely attuned to the political discussions that underpinned regional ethnicities. Yet, within the Spanish communities, tensions regarding the valid parameters for regional cultural expression were often foils for broader political debates. Queensland Spaniards’ self-perception, and their negotiation of multiple identities, continued to reference the spaces and imagery of Spain. Yet, these identities were subjective, and the move to Queensland altered their purpose and modes of expression. Queensland Spaniards sought to recreate comparable social networks to those that had sustained their identities prior to emigration, frequently contacting comparable Australian groups that shared similar means of expression. Spaniards did not set old identities aside, but new issues in Spain and Queensland forced a process of clarification and the compartmentalisation of roles. Sharp divisions in Spanish communities’ social memories were accentuated by the regional nature of Queensland settlement, focussing cultural debates on regional norms. The regional nature of Queensland’s Spanish settlement altered the expression of cultural and political identities, but also left them relatively uncontested until the influx of Castilian migrants in the late 1950s. Most Spanish migrants to Australia preferred the southern states of Victoria and New South Wales, where greater stability fostered larger and more cohesively ‘Spanish’ communities. Queensland’s long distances and radical political atmosphere instead facilitated the replication of Spain’s regional characteristics. Industrial tensions aided radicals who were able to find comparable political identities, whilst family networks that referred to spaces in Spain developed sophisticated strategies to accelerate chain migration. The thesis corrects a serious lack of research into Spanish migrants in Australia. The group’s small size has led researchers to favour larger communities, despite the important information offered by the Spanish example. The thesis provides a historical narrative of Spaniards’ experiences in Queensland, but also applies academic debates regarding social memories, and investigates their relationship to cultural and political identities. This includes not only the maintenance of social memories, but also their replication and modification over several generations. The analysis uses awareness of political change in both Queensland and Spain, to investigate migrants’ long-term response to political trauma and changed social circumstance.
Keyword Ethnicity
Hispanic Studies
Additional Notes Colour Pages: 105, 107, 109, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 127, 129, 130, 208, 209, 210, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 251, 273, 284, 287

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Created: Thu, 29 Jan 2009, 17:20:37 EST by Mr Robert Mason on behalf of Library - Information Access Service