Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 18 Issue 6 (November/December 2008), Pages 527-646

Protecting the Nation: Nationalist rhetoric on asylum seekers and the Tampa (pages 576-592)


This paper analyses texts from the Australian print media that invoke nationalist discourse in the so‐called ‘Tampa crisis’ of 2001, which involved the boarding by Australian military troops of a civilian Norwegian shipping vessel (the Tampa) that had rescued a group of asylum seekers. In particular, we are interested in how military action was justified in public discourse against a group of civilians through the use of arguments relying in some form or another on the notion of nationhood and national identity. We employ a critical discursive methodology to investigate how some of these descriptions worked to legitimate the Australian government's role in these events and demonstrate some of the mechanisms by which discourses of nation can operate in the marginalization of asylum seekers. We conclude that presenting issues relating to asylum seekers and the Tampa at a level of national identity was critical in justifying the Australian government's stance and actions. We also raise some concerns about the consequences that may follow from the Australian government's actions and reliance on nationalist rhetoric. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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