Australia’s Place in the Neighbourhood: Maritime Boundary Disputes with Timor-Leste and Continuing Discomfort in the Asia-Pacific Region (13285)
This paper uses a case study of maritime border disputes between Australia and Timor‐Leste to gain insight into Australia’s perception of itself and its place within the Asia‐Pacific region. In considering the ongoing dispute between Australia and Timor‐Leste, this case study from 2002 until 2012, provides a unique opportunity to examine Australia’s dealings with a smaller neighbour, and to question what this reveals about Australia’s own sense of security and inclusion within the broader region it inhabits.
In essence, this paper argues that sustained and entrenched colonial geographical imaginations continue to dominate Australia’s sense of its own identity, and adversely impact upon its consequent relationships with its near neighbours. These imaginations, including Australia as a frontier and as terra nullius, as an isolated ‘island nation’, and as a ‘European outpost’, all proceed to frame Australia’s perception of itself and its place in the Asia‐Pacific through a distinctly colonial lens. In effect, this vision also serves to performatively position Australia as outside, and distinct from its immediate region. As such, an understanding of how such legacies have been maintained and manifest themselves today is central to improving Australia’s interactions and relationships with its Asia‐Pacific neighbours now and into the future.