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Australian triumphal arches and settler colonial cultural narratives


Power, J and Norrie, H, Australian triumphal arches and settler colonial cultural narratives, Fabrications, 27, (1) pp. 71-99. ISSN 1033-1867 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 The Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand

DOI: doi:10.1080/10331867.2016.1262716


Within the Western architectural canon, the triumphal arch has been used to embody symbolism and meaning in the urban rituals of parades and processions. This paper examines temporary triumphal arches constructed in Australia between 1868 and 1954, to celebrate visits by the British royal family and their representatives. Each of the arches selected for discussion incorporated Australian Indigenous people, buildings or artefacts, which were curated to convey carefully crafted narratives of colonisation. A raft of interpretations can be read into each of the arches because they are intentionally loaded with meaning and symbolism. Particularly evident are the notions of protectionism and assimilation, which were central to the settler colonial narrative. Understandings of the arches is framed by the interpretive information available about them photographic documentation taken of the in situ arches, drawings and textual descriptions. This paper examines how the triumphal arch form enshrined Australian Indigenous culture into the narrative of colonial experience. It explores how the triumphal arches presented particular representations of Indigenous cultures, both through the allegorical narratives inherent in their physical design, and through the involvement of performers in the events.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:triumphal arches, settler colonialism, royal visits
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural history, theory and criticism
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Power, J (Dr Jacqueline Power)
UTAS Author:Norrie, H (Dr Helen Norrie)
ID Code:112443
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2016-11-10
Last Modified:2018-06-19

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