I’m not sure if I believe this yet. A few days ago the University of Sydney advised me I have now satisfied the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Arts & Social Sciences). I don’t think I will really believe it until that day arrives when I am in the Great Hall, suitably robed in the black and scarlet gown and hood, being conferred with the degree by the Chancellor of the University.
My thesis is titled The Chrysalid Crown: An un-national history of the Crown in Australian 1808-1986. Click on the title to view a copy.
This is the abstract of the thesis, recorded in the university library system, if you don’t have the time to while away on 80,000 words plus appendices.
This thesis set out to answer a deceptively simple question: why did the 1999 referendum to abolish the Australian Crowns fail? It focuses on the evolving civic personalities, communal identities and popular representations of the Crown in Australia, and how those representations and agents changed over 180 years. Capacities for the Crown’s continuing mutability, especially its divisibility, are at the heart of these imaginings. The answer to the question lies partly in emotions, in passion and the heart rather than in reason and the mind, along with a complex historical mix of other factors. Each chapter focuses on a single event or artefact: a usurpation of vice-regal authority, a proposal for a cadet kingdom of Australia, a mystic royal response to anti-German persecution, a State’s attempt to secede under the Crown and the invention of a chivalric order. The thesis posits a complex, iterative and changing network of social relationships rather than a simple metropole-periphery binary or hierarchy. It disaggregates ideas of crown, Britishness, empire, nation and Australianess, and concludes on the eve of the 1988 bicentennial celebrations when the Crown in Australia appeared splendid, popular, modern, federal, natural and regenerative. They were characteristics that, with hindsight, girded an Australian institution at once ancient and contemporary for the challenges of the 1990s when it stared-down what appeared to be an existential threat from Australian republicanism.