Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Melbourne
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Art Forum is the Victorian College of the Arts’ series of weekly talks by leading artists and curators. Providing a rich insight into their work and its relationship with the world, each guest speaker shares the themes, processes and ideas that drive their practice.
Art Forum Semester One is co-presented with the Melbourne Reconciliation Network.
The Victorian College of the Arts is grateful to Holding Redlich for its generous support of Art Forum.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, naturalisation had not yet systematically attached to a project of cultural and affective nationalism or to an idea of national security, as it would in the nineteenth century. Instead, in an opposite framework, naturalisation in early modern England disconnected immigration from personal and communal identities. Rather than shore up the boundaries of the nation, as it is thought to do today, naturalisation carved a bureaucratic and mercantile path for individual liberty regardless of country of birth, simplifying and cheapening national privileges for desirable alien merchants, sailors, and tradesmen. In this crucial period, naturalization came to support the idea of what Stephanie DeGooyer calls “paranational” liberty: the right of the private individual to roam and settle anywhere they chose. While Jews and Catholics would, with few exceptions, be restricted from naturalisation, and, on the whole, naturalisation policy in early modern England targeted a relatively select and wealthy group of white and male individuals, the idea that new national subjects could be created by statute, rather than godly and sovereign will, gave rise to a construction of immigration as the opening of the nation to outsiders rather than its hermetic defense.
This session is hosted by Professor Peter Otto.
This Seminar is part of the seminar series on Naturalisation presented by the ERCC and the Australian Centre.