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Copyright 2020 British Educational Research Association. "This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: 'Who is Australian? National belonging and exclusion in Australian history textbooks', which has been published in final form at 10.1002/rev3.3233. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions."
Although multiculturalism replaced the White Australia Policy in the 1970s, the Australian nation
continues to be imagined predominantly as a White space from which Aborigines, Torres Strait
Islanders and peoples of non-White immigrant heritage are excluded. Whereas White people’s positioning as Australian is secure and taken for granted, non-White people’s Australianness is fraught
and tentative. In this article, I employ critical whiteness studies to explore the reproduction of racialised categories of national belonging and exclusion. Using textbooks as records of dominant narratives, I examine how Australian history narratives in secondary school textbooks produce and
maintain the White solipsism which enables the nation to be imagined as White. From a sample of
16 texts released this century by a leading Australian publisher of secondary school textbooks, I
excluded 10 which duplicated the content of other texts or did not cover my chosen focus: narratives of the Australia gold rushes and national identity. I conducted iterative critical discourse analysis on the remaining six texts. My analysis shows that, despite explicit attempts to improve textbook
content, implicitly White solipsism is reinforced rather than disrupted. This functions to uphold
constructions of the nation as White, excluding Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders and peoples of
non-White immigrant heritage from national belonging. Further work is needed to ensure history
narratives interrupt and contest White solipsism and its attendant privileging of White Australians.
Educators raised in White societies need to recognise their likely enculturation in White solipsism
and learn to avoid unintentionally reinscribing categories of national belonging and exclusion.