"The greatest harbour in the world" : Sydney Harbour as a contested space in Australian culture

Carson, Susan Jane (2012) "The greatest harbour in the world" : Sydney Harbour as a contested space in Australian culture. In American Association of Australian Literary Studies , February, 2010, Washington, USA. (Unpublished)

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It is a matter of public record that the former Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Paul Keating, upset certain Australian architects with his intervention into the redevelopment of the 22-hectare “Barangaroo” site on Sydney Harbour. While Keating’s intervention continues to provide engaging theatre for Sydney residents the debate is also an interesting expression of the narrative of contestation that has been played out historically about the waters of Sydney Harbour.
From a cultural studies perspective, the Harbour, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, has been for many years a political and imaginative space that captures a diversity of local and national preoccupations. Keating’s announcement that planners have a “once-in-200-year opportunity to call a halt to the kind of encroachments we have seen in the past” is in fact another moment in the long history of disputation over the impact of the man-made environment on the natural landform in this area. This paper addresses the spaces of Sydney Harbour as represented in recent debates and in writing and film from previous decades. The argument suggests that the Harbour is a complex site of public and private enactment that is played out in a diverse range of cultural representations. In particular, the paper notes the work of Michel de Certeau on the mythic qualities of certain spaces in relation to the space of the Harbour. ‘The Greatest Harbour in the World’ argues that the Harbour, and the Bridge, fulfils a particular historical and cultural function that gives this space a set of meanings that are well beyond the typical parameters of urban development.

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ID Code: 50247
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: Sydney, Harbour, space , Barangaroo, politics
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LITERARY STUDIES (200500) > Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature) (200502)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Creative Writing & Literary Studies
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 please consult the author
Deposited On: 14 May 2012 01:15
Last Modified: 14 May 2012 01:15

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