History and governmentality in the Australian citizenship test

Taylor and Francis
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Continuum, 2012, 26 (1), pp. 157 - 168
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In its final year in office, the Howard government introduced a citizenship test in order to determine if migrants and refugees could become Australian citizens. Prospective citizens prepared for the test by studying the contents of the resource booklet, Becoming an Australian Citizen. A signi?cant part of the booklets content dealt with the subject of Australian history, a new form of assessable knowledge that test candidates needed to learn in order to be considered as citizens that could embrace the Australian way of life. Yet, although the history section made up 37% of the booklets content, the use of Australian history in the citizenship test has not been extensively researched. Most work has focused on the inclusion of Australian values as essential knowledge required. A genealogical analysis enables us to see the test as a particular technology of power whereby the test provides a particular account of Australian history which citizens-to-be must be familiar with and place themselves in relationship to, in order to pass the Australian citizenship test and hence be considered as `model Australian citizens.
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