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The passage of authority: imagining the political transformation of Australia’s Christmas Island, from sovereignty to governance

Chambers, Peter 2012, The passage of authority: imagining the political transformation of Australia’s Christmas Island, from sovereignty to governance, Shima : the international journal of research into island cultures, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 116-137.

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Title The passage of authority: imagining the political transformation of Australia’s Christmas Island, from sovereignty to governance
Author(s) Chambers, Peter
Journal name Shima : the international journal of research into island cultures
Volume number 6
Issue number 2
Start page 116
End page 137
Total pages 22
Publisher Macquarie University
Place of publication Sydney, N.S.W.
Publication date 2012
ISSN 1834-6057
Keyword(s) Christmas Island
immigration detention
border security
sovereignty
governance
palliative communication
bureaucratic sincerity
utopia
Summary In 2012, Australia’s Christmas Island is best known as an island of immigration detention, a key component of Australia’s growing offshore border security apparatus, where interdicted boat arrivals seeking asylum are detained and processed. This article offers one account of how the Island came to be what it is, by providing two snapshots of the operable set of power relations on Christmas Island, then and now: ‘Island in the Sun’, and ‘Tropics of Governance’. Side by side, their stark contrast reveals the passage of authority through time and place, from the embodied, unified voice of the sovereignty of the British Empire to the palliative communication and bureaucratic sincerity that characterise governance. By disclosing shifting patterns of emergence and decay and showing border security’s intimate relation to governance, this article seeks to offer a deepened understanding of the current detention situation in its immanence. What can now be seen as Christmas Island’s past follies also reveals the restless work of successive political imaginations, the shifting ways and means by which an island can be translated into a solution to a political problem, and how successive solutions tend toward wreck and ruin.
Language eng
Field of Research 210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, The Author
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30080667

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.