'The spirit of local patriotism': progress and populism in Sydney's northern suburbs in the 1920s

University of Queensland Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
JAS, Australia's Public Intellectual Forum, 2010, 34 (2), pp. 163 - 177
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Local patriotism emerged in Australia in the suburbs from the mid nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, influenced by progressivism, it was a populist reaction by emerging suburbs and municipalities to state power and the political and cultural dominance of the city. Promoting the local as the anchor for a chain of national and imperial being and the place where moral capital was renewed, local patriotism paradoxically elevated ties of community and locality above all else. It also exhibited a âreactionary modernismâ which embraced new technology while seeking to maintain traditional values linked to the land and a British inheritance. Ultimately, self-interest driven by exclusivism, anti-urbanism and class quarantining underpinned local patriotism in Australia. Although its currency was relatively short-lived, it remained persuasive in Australian political culture. This article examines local patriotism through a case study of Sydneyâs North Shore and northern suburbs in the first three decades of the twentieth century, drawing extensively on a local newspaper, The Suburban Herald.
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