||I am investigating the way in which jazz has developed in Australia as a site of 'discourses of nation'. Regarding the latter, there are two main axes of research that relate closely to jazz:
1 the relationship between tradition and innovation
2 the distinctiveness of a specifically Australian cultural tradition
Both of these have been perennial themes in our self-defintion as a national community.
Of all musical forms, jazz has most durably and immediately registered the debates over Australian identity and the tension between tradition and innovation. Popular music forms mediate such issues most directly, since the art music canon is relatively impervious to local dynamics. Among popular musics, jazz has been with us since the early twentieth century and in a continuous dialogue with other musical cultures, from art music to rock and its successors. The position of jazz in Australia has been a test-case for Australia's international orientation (in particular the relative strength of Anglo-European or US cultural models), urban versus rural consciousness, native versus imported cultures, and gender politics, especially given the broad trajectory of a feminised to a masculinised music from the 1920s to the postwar era. The debates over 'The New Woman', the deportation of the first Afro-American touring band in 1928, and subsequent race-based bans on visiting musicians, the responses to US military personnel during WW2, local reportage on international receptions accorded touring Australian jazz musicians; all exemplify the sensitivity of jazz as a register of attitudes to 'Nation-building'. At the same time debates over jazz have identified internal national heterogeneity, particularly along the Sydney/Melbourne axis.