Issue date: 17 June 2002

An expert on ethnic conflicts in Australia has compared racism in Europe with his experience of relations between aborigines and settlers, during a year’s research in Bristol. Based at the University of the West of England, Dr Anthony Moran has furthered his work on nationalism by studying the rise of ultra-rightwing parties in the UK, France and Holland.

In Europe, Anthony has been able to compare the policies of the British National Party and le Pen in France - and the attitudes of their supporters - with those of right-wing Australian politician Pauline Hanson.

“The Far Right plays on people’s emotions but what they propose are impossible politics. Even Pim Fortuyn recognised the existence of labour shortages in Europe that stimulates continued immigration.

“Where Australia is concerned, it has tried to come to terms with its past, including the dispossession of the aborigines. Debates still continue on how to generate a sense of national identity and whether this should mean assimilation or separate rights for indigenous peoples.”

Anthony’s interest in politics and racism was given new impetus by the rise of Pauline Hanson’s extreme rightwing one-nation party in Australia.

“Pauline Hanson campaigned on a triple platform of anti-indigenous rights, anti-immigration, and anti-globalisation,” he said. “Likewise in Europe, globalisation has led to an alteration in the policies of the Far Right. It is one of the major social factors impacting on people’s lives.

“Some people have been able to adjust to life in a global society, but for others this has led to an increasingly fragile sense of identity. My research indicates that the appeal of right-wing parties in Europe appears to be strongest among voters who have been disorientated by the effects of the global society. Often they are suffering from unemployment in traditional industries, and are suspicious of corruption in mainstream politics.”

In Australia, his main areas of research are focused on relations between the settler and indigenous communities, and the attempts to forge a sense of national identity incorporating these groups as well as more recent immigrants. Anthony concludes, “This is not a new struggle: as far back as 1836, courts in the new colony were debating whether indigenous tribes constituted sovereign states, with all the rights that would entail, or whether the land was effectively empty from a legal point of view when the first settlers arrived.”


Editor’s notes

1. While at UWE, Anthony contributed to conferences on human rights, and has had two articles on Australian national identity and the place of aborigines accepted for publication, with another under review. He is also writing an article entitled ‘Globalization, Racism and the British National Party’ and has been invited to submit a proposal entitled ‘A Continent of Strangers?: Australia’s Unruly Places’ for a series of books published by Routledge.

2. Anthony has been based at the Centre for Critical Theory within UWE’s Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. His time studying in Bristol was made possible by the award of Leverhulme Trust Travelling Research Fellowship.

3. On his return to Australia, Anthony will take up a post as an Australian Research Council Fellow in the Politics Department, School of Social Science, LaTrobe University, Melbourne.

Back to top