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Remaking the Tasman World : [book review] Daley, Caroline 2010

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 81 Electronic Book Review: Australasia and the Pacific Region by defining security in a way that justifies “massive insecurity and obliteration of others” is a polarized and unbalanced view that essentially misrepresents and downplays the full variety of other different and more influential factors influencing security policy. It also tends to overly conflate domestic issues involving migration and racial policy with security and foreign policy behaviour by effectively claiming racism as a major causal factor of security- policy decision making. The validity of Burke’s strong perspective on security policy would likely benefit from some testing via the greater use of extant, more specific, detailed and rigorous approaches to security-policy decision making at the elite and individual decision-maker levels (i.e., drawing psychological research and ethnographic methods to examine the relationship between race and policy). Despite these shortcomings Burke’s historical approach is useful in highlighting the ways in which some specific xenophobic fears have contributed to Australian government policies. This background is of contemporary importance given recent increases in the number of physical assaults on Asians in Australia, the impact of these assaults on how Australia is perceived by other countries in the Asian region, and the implications of such perceptions for foreign relations. I recommend the book to readers interested in international relations and global politics, and especially those interested in critical security-studies approaches to Australian security and foreign-policy decision making. The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia  scoTT floWer REMAKING THE TASMAN WORLD. By Philippa Mein Smith, Peter Hempenstall and Shaun Goldfinch. Christchurch, New Zealand: University of Canterbury Press, 2008. 296 pp. (Tables, figures, B&W and coloured photos.) US$24.95, paper. ISBN 978-1-877257-62-9. In 2001, one hundred years after Australian federation, James Belich published a general history of twentieth-century New Zealand in which he argued that the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia led to the death of the “Tasman World.” Prior to 1901, according to Belich, New Zealand and the states that came to be known collectively as Australia enjoyed an extensive economic, political, social and cultural relationship. But when Australia federated New Zealand turned its attention to the motherland, and entered into a “recolonial” relationship with Britain (James Belich, Paradise Reforged: A History of the New Zealanders From the 1880s to the Year 2000, Allan Lane/ Penguin, Auckland, 2001). Remaking the Tasman World says very little about New Zealand’s ties with Britain, but Philippa Mein Smith, Peter Hempenstall and Shaun Goldfinch, along with contributors Rosemary Baird and Stuart Pacific Affairs: Volume 83, No. 4 – December 2010  82 McMillan, take issue with Belich’s declaration that the Tasman World died when Australia federated. Through ten chapters, covering everything from business worlds, defence, demography, economic relationships, education, government policy, religion, and sporting ties, they argue that the Tasman World not only survived Australian federation but, in the current era of globalization, is becoming ever more significant. The central premise of Remaking the Tasman World is sound. As the authors illustrate, in almost any field you care to name numerous examples can be found throughout the twentieth century to show that strong ties between Australia and New Zealand flourished in the years after federation. There were always differences—the first substantive chapter uses cartoons to highlight stereotypes and rivalries—but every family has the odd feud. Rather than focus on national stories, as so many history books in both Australia and New Zealand do, here the shared regional trumps the distinctive local, as the Tasman cousins live, work and play together. All of which begs the question: If there was a Tasman World pre- federation, and it continued to exist post-federation, what needs to be remade? A good case could be made for an historiographical essay on the separate, nationalist writing of New Zealand and Australian history, and why a regional approach might disrupt the exceptionalist storytelling on both sides of the Tasman. Rather than remaking the Tasman World, we might need to create a regional historiography. But that is not the focus of Remaking the Tasman World. Historical facts, rather than historiography, are to the fore in this book. The authors are more intent on proving the ongoing existence of the Tasman World than they are with telling us why its existence matters. Which raises a further question: Will readers on either side of the Tasman care? Those taken by the transnational moment already look beyond national boundaries when they want to understand the past; such authors are unlikely to want to restrict their gaze to regional relationships when the whole world is there to be explored. And those who prefer to work within a national paradigm are unlikely to reconsider their approach just because there was once an Australasian Olympic team. As the (New Zealand-based) authors note, their Tasman World approach “is deliberately New Zealand-focused. New Zealand needs Australia; Australia does not need New Zealand and has not done so since 1901” (19). But New Zealand history needs more than Australia and it is debatable whether this book will encourage any Australian historians to decide that they need to know more about New Zealand. In their conclusion Hempenstall and Mein Smith note that one of their goals in writing Remaking the Tasman World was to recover “a hidden history” of trans-Tasman relations (206). In this they have succeeded. But they failed “to get beyond the trans-Tasman to the global” (206). To the extent that this is a transnational history it is a regional history. As one of very few works that take trans-Tasman relationships seriously, it is full of promise. New Zealand and Australian historians should not ignore one another’s history. But the  83 Electronic Book Review: Australasia and the Pacific Region rationale for taking a regional approach, either in and of itself, or as part of a wider transnational approach, needs to be more compelling than a recovery exercise if historians on either side of the Tasman are to be convinced that the Tasman World is a useful category for historical analysis. University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand  caroline daley


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