Australasian Internationalism & The ‘New Pacific’ c.1914-1935: Two Lines of Enquiry

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Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 24 April 2018


Hedley Bull (Building 130) Theatre 3


Sean Phillips, Nuffield College, Oxford University


Benjamin Jones

In recent years, much excellent work has been carried out by Australian scholars in investigating the role played by Dominion actors in trans-Pacific internationalism during the first half of the twentieth century, challenging a historiographical trend that emphasises Dominion intransigence toward Pacific affairs.

This paper seeks to add to that growing literature by probing two underdeveloped lines of enquiry, testing the nature of New Zealand’s Pacific-minded internationalism and in exploring the Pacific dimensions of socialist internationalism in Australasia. Investigating discourse concerning a ‘New Pacific’ as a history of ideas, I analyse the published output and influence of two individuals, Nellie Euphemia Coad and John Smith ‘Jock’ Garden within the same analytical framework as a means of testing how ‘thinking Pacific’ became ‘domesticated’ (to use David Armitage’s term) in the Dominions.

Nellie Coad was a leading member of the New Zealand Educational Institute and a long-standing member of the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR). Jock Garden on the other hand was a leading trade unionist in New South Wales. Possessing a rather different ‘international mind’ to Coad, Garden engaged with the Soviet-backed Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat and acted as the editor of the Pan-Pacific Worker, an Australian edition of the organisation’s official publication.

I argue that both Coad and Garden were influenced by potent global discourse concerning a ‘New Pacific’: a series of ideas that defined the Pacific as a coherent political space in global affairs by the early twentieth century. A space – it was imagined – was growing in importance, teeming with problems and potential. In investigating Coad and Garden together, I seek to further test the breadth and depth of Pacific-mindedness in the Dominions and to challenge a broader historical trend of writing separate and uncomplimentary histories of inter-war internationalisms (liberal vis-à-vis socialist).

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