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Australian–Latin American Relations New Links in a Changing Global Landscape

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Australian–Latin American Relations New Links in a Changing Global Landscape
  December 15, 2015 12:42 MAC-US/ELIZ Page-iii 9781137501912_01_prexvi Australian–Latin AmericanRelations New Links in a Changing Global Landscape Edited by Elizabeth Kath  December 15, 2015 12:42 MAC-US/ELIZ Page-xi 9781137501912_01_prexvi Preface Overcoming the New TordesillasDivide  As one author in the present anthology reminds us, the first fleet to arrivein Australia in 1788 came via Rio de Janeiro. It was common practice, atleast until the 1820s, for ships traversing the Atlantic and Indian oceansfrom Portsmouth to Botany Bay to stock up on supplies in Brazil. Putin more dramatic terms, we might say that Australia was settled via Latin America. The vagaries of being tied to different empires—Britain, on theonehand,andPortugalandSpainontheother—slowedrelationsbetweenthetwocontinents,butthehistoriesofthetwolandswerebothlinked and  divided by that same phenomenon.This cleaving was a double process. The imperial division of theglobe, which meant that trade between the continents faltered in thenineteenth century, also divided both lands internally. This is related toanother historical fact of which we also need to be reminded. The name“Australia” was not spoken during the moment of British possession on January 26, 1788. That is, Australia did not exist as such until long afterthe 1788 event that is now celebrated as Australia’s National Day of set-tlement. The land that was claimed for British occupation was actually only a part-continent called the Territory of New South Wales (Williamsand Frost 1998). 1  Why, and how does this claim connect the conti-nent of Australia to Latin America? The Territory of New South Walesformed part of an unexplored land with many unknown edges, and thatland was divided down the middle in accordance with the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas. This was the same treaty that for centuries had dividedBrazil from the rest of Latin America. The Australian continent wasthus marked according to the same global principles of cartography thathad stunning consequences for Latin America. “Australia” was dividedbetween  Nouvelle Hollande   and New South Wales, arbitrarily along the135th meridian—just as the other southern land was divided by Portugal  December 15, 2015 12:42 MAC-US/ELIZ Page-xii 9781137501912_01_prexvi xii  P REFACE and Spain into separate colonies that came to speak different dominantlanguages.I began these reflections with the phrase “as one author in the presentanthology reminds us.” But it is not strictly true. It is not  reminding   that we need. Rather, it is research, narration, teaching, and learning that weurgently require. I was never told in school that Australia emerged out of an imperial arrangement and “settled” as a divided land on the basis of an early modern treaty that had particular significance to Latin America.I never knew that the First Fleet to Australia came via Rio de Janeiro—asdid Captain Cook on his way to discover Australia in 1770. I did notknow that the man who first settled Australia, Captain Arthur Phillip,previously worked for the Portuguese navy in a Latin American war con-nected to the Treaty of Tordesillas that eventually led to the formationof Uruguay—the Third Colonial War of 1773–1777. 2 I had no idea that the first Labour Prime Minister of Australia in 1904, John Christian Watson, was born in Chile. Coming forward to the present, until I readthe present book, I did not know that contemporary migrants to Australia from Mexico come primarily for quality of life, security, and adventure.Like me, most Australians know little about the long and uneven history andpoliticsofrelationsbetweenLatinAmericaandAustralia.Anddespitethe growing importance of contemporary relations, we know little morethan anecdotal stories about the present interchange: salsa, coffee, and theBuena Vista Social Club.This uneven knowledge is a manifestation of what might be called  patchy globalization —that is, despite the objective blanketing of the worldby a complex fabric of economic, ecological, political, and cultural rela-tions, the global imaginary leaves out and highlights different patches inthe world. Depending on where we live, and what our media treats asthe big stories of the moment, our mind-maps of the globe diminish andenlarge different parts of the world in variable ways. Despite having anextensive coastline along the Indian Ocean, it was only recently—andfor problematic instrumental reasons related to a desire for increasing trade and decreasing refugees—that Australians began to realize that they shared a common ocean with India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Looking in the other direction, despite a strong orientation toward the Pacificafter 1945, Latin America remained largely absent as a relational spacein Australia’s global imaginary. Australia’s orientation to the Pacific waspredominantly northward on the long diagonal, looking avidly to theUnited States. Though the outline of the other southern continent fig-ured in school atlases, only patches of recognition existed in response tothe deep complexity of Latin America.  December 15, 2015 12:42 MAC-US/ELIZ Page-xiii 9781137501912_01_prexvi P REFACE  xiii For Australians, the Americas included “America” (aka the UnitedStates) and its northern cousin Canada, while those lands to the southof the Rio Grande were exotic and dangerous. I grew up in fear of thegenerals and the drug cartels—films during my youth suggested that fool-hardy Australian tourists would be grabbed off the street and ransomed ashostages. This danger was confirmed by the 1973 coup in Chile againstSalvador Allende, supported by the CIA and, as we found out decadeslater, Australia’s intelligence services. 3  Approximately 10,000 Chileansdied, and not many people in Australia talked about it.In the mid-1970s things began to change, but it was only in relationto a couple of patches across the continent: for example, Rio de Janiero,Buenos Aires, and Havana. In 1976, an Australian singer Peter Allenreleased what was to become his signature song, “I go to Rio.” It becamean Australian hit single. In my mind, I can still see the video clip featuredon Countdown that year. Peter Allen is playing a white piano flanked by palm trees. He is wearing a Hawaiian shirt (not from Latin America) andshaking a pair of maracas. In the same year, the Andrew Lloyd Webbersong “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” was released, as was Jimmy Buffet’s Havana Dreaming   album. Latin America was becoming more than theland of violence and drugs.The present anthology,  Australian–Latin American Relations  , takes off from that period of the 1970s and shows the emerging relationship of eco-nomic and cultural exchange that develops between the two continents:from the takeoff of the number of Latin American migrants to Australia in the 1970s, to the opening of Mexican restaurants and the importationof tequila and Corona beer. As one author documents, most of the immi-grants came from cities such as Buenos Aires in Argentina and Santiago inChile—ironical, given the ambivalent Australian response to and engage-ment with these countries. The anthology thus begins the massive task of research, narration, teaching, and learning that will be crucial to thefuture of our intercontinental relations.Unfortunately, it is at this very moment that a new version of theTordesillas problem has emerged to beset the global imaginary. If I can usethe Tordesillas Treaty as a variable metaphor for complex social cleaving,the first manifestation of the Tordesillas problem involved the geographi-cal division of landmasses through imperial designation. Now, the secondmanifestation of the cleaving concerns the division and reforming of ideasand ideologies used to judge the value of global relations in general. Thedominant ideology of the global relations today is neoliberalism or marketglobalism. Over the past few decades, thisway of understanding theworldhas separated off questions of culture, politics, and economy, and then  December 15, 2015 12:42 MAC-US/ELIZ Page-xiv 9781137501912_01_prexvi xiv   P REFACE cleaved “social” values as subordinate to market-based economic values.The value of global interchange is now judged at the highest levels by thelevel of economic return. In the name of national interest, the economicdomain rules. Do we want to accept more immigrants? It depends on whether that greater intake is economically advantageous. Do we wantto encourage the movement of international students? It depends on itspotential market return. Is the music industry important? It depends onits market value.The chapters in  Australian–Latin American Relations   are aware of thisproblem. Subtly, and sometimes without explicit reference, the chaptersexpress only “two cheers” for the latest stage of the engagement. The thirdcheeriswithheld,awarethatthiscleavingofvaluesmeansthatAustralian–Latin American relations are being divided between the personal concernsof people engaging across the geographical space between the two conti-nents and those more instrumental economic concerns that have beenseparated out as driving the new engagement. While the anthology doesnot present us with clear answers to the question of how do we developgoodrelations,implicitinmanyofthediscussionsisaconcernforpositiveengagement—from the question of why do migrants come to Australia to what are the principles for sustainable trade relations.Positive engagement depends upon active governmental, business, civilsociety and community support for the full range of social capabilities.These capabilities include  vitality  , the capability of enjoying embod-ied life to the full;  mutuality  , the capability of relating to others andto nature in a meaningful way;  productivity  , the capability to repro-duce flourishing conditions of existence;  communication , the capability to share ideas with others in a way that is understandable and expres-sive;  learning  , the capability to seek knowledge, comprehend, and usethat understanding for enhancing social life;  reconciliation , the capabil-ity to reconcile negative differences across social and natural boundariesof continuing and flourishing positive differences; and  sustainability  , thecapability to endure over time in a way that supports future genera-tions. These are complex conditions of relationality. They entail difficultnegotiation. However, without such a holistic sense of Australian–Latin American engagement we are in danger of allowing the second Tordesillascleavage between social life and return-on-investment to be acted outin favor of the latter. In showing us the complexity of Australian–Latin American relations, this anthology is a wonderful first contribution toacting otherwise.Paul James
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