2022 - Shortlisted
A far-reaching survey of Australia’s relationship to the Pacific, Ian Hoskins’ book more than fulfils its large ambitions. Provoked by what he calls Australia’s ‘national amnesia’ regarding its own global region, Hoskins has sought to investigate what it means for this country to be ‘girt by sea’. He brings together the latest findings from archaeology, anthropology, history, and politics to explain a relationship that is at least 40 million years old.
Moving deftly from the break-up of Gondwana, to the arrival of First Peoples to Australia and the Pacific Islands, to European intrusions, and to interactions with Asia and America, this book constantly keeps the present in view. It explains in every chapter why these different histories matter to a nation that has only recognised them by turns over the past two centuries. Australia and the Pacific is vital reading for anyone seeking to understand the deeper contexts behind Australia’s offshore detention policies, attitudes to a newly emergent China, reliance of Pacific labour in multiple fields, and critical obligations to lower its carbon emissions.