The visual culture of work
Concepts of the ‘useful citizen’, and the social and cultural value of labour as a contribution to civil society, have been at the centre of debates about citizenship since the late 19th century. Concerns about protecting Australia’s labour market underpinned the system of exclusion known popularly as the ‘White Australia’ policy, and informed the production of imagery that implicitly limited Australian subjecthood and citizenship to Anglo-Europeans. Throughout the twentieth century, through waves of migration and social and political change, work and labour continued to be central to the way citizenship was defined, understood and challenged.
This project examines the role of visual culture in shaping connections between citizenship, labour and rights. It may be focused on a specific historical case study, such as the visual culture connected to postwar migration, or the ways in which contemporary photography and art practice seek to rethink the relationships between work, citizenship and belonging.