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  • (2020) Dashwood, Genevieve
    From the late 1940s, international students from parts of Asia became a new, distinct presence in Australian educational institutions. Despite the existence of a racially exclusionary immigration policy, the numbers of international students increased in the following decades. These included both privately funded students as well as those training under government sponsored educational exchanges programs: the most notable of which was the Colombo Plan. Building on existing foreign policy and migration histories, this thesis addresses how the Australian government, motivated by Cold War anxieties, sought to build goodwill in Asia, at the same time as it promoted non-European international students from Asia to a domestic population conditioned by the White Australia Policy. It also examines how international students, in turn, experienced Australia. The unique starting point for this thesis is the previously overlooked archive of publicity material produced by the government’s Australian News and Information Bureau. This vast resource affords a fruitful lens through which to explore the government’s investment in international student schemes. By looking beyond the frame, this thesis contributes to a new social history of international students in Australia. The first part of the thesis looks closely at official publicity methods, which sought to promote the ‘soft diplomacy’ of student exchange in both Asia and Australia. It investigates how a new genre of student stories was shaped and how the voices of Asian students and trainees were inculcated to promote Australia in Asia. A special focus on the monthly magazine Hemisphere shows how the government endeavoured to maintain connections with returned students. In the second part of the thesis, the social history of international students’ experiences of housing, health, relationships, and migration is explored. The publicity material produced at this time often touched on these themes, as they were central to the international student encounter with local Australians. A key concern of this thesis is the gendered nature of these encounters. White Australian women tended to play a central role in hosting and socialising with international students, and the relationships they established could be transformational for them, too. Catalysed by the official photographs, this thesis creates a fuller picture of students’ lives in Australia and the impact their presence had on Australian society. Finally, this thesis adds an important contribution to a much longer history of international students in Australia. The period under investigation here, from the late 1940s to the 1960s, established Australia as a core destination for international students for the decades to follow. Since that time, international student numbers have continued to grow, and their impact on Australian education, immigration, and economy is now tremendous. As in the postwar period, however, international students still confront a society conditioned by its past and suspicious of its neighbours. This thesis seeks build understanding of how past international students and their Australian hosts navigated the contradictions of such entanglements.