Nicholas FernsAug 5, 2022
Australia in the Age of International Development, 1945–1975
Colonial and Foreign Aid Policy in Papua New Guinea and Southeast Asia
Palgrave MacMillan 2020
In the voluminous literature on the history of modernisation theory and its associated concept of development since the end of World War II, much of the focus lies on the efforts undertaken by developed nations—most notably the United States and Soviet Union—to establish a model for developing countries to build not just their economies but their nations as well. Eschewing this paradigm, Dr Nicholas Ferns’ excellent monograph Australia in the Age of International Development, 1945-1975: Colonial and Foreign Aid Policy in Papua New Guinea and Southeast Asia (published by Routledge in 2020) provides a rich and important intervention that highlights how the ideas and practices that underpinned international development were shaped not only by the Cold War superpowers but by middle powers like Australia as well. Focussing particularly on Australia’s development aid efforts in Papua New Guinea and Southeast Asia through its own formulation of the ‘New Deal’ for the former and the Colombo Plan for the latter, Ferns brings to light the complexity of a country caught in the middle of its own perception as being between a developed and developing nation, between British and American economic and developmental influences, and between serving as a colonial power in its own right while also supporting anti-colonial movements.
Bernard Z. Keo is Lecturer in Asian History at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia who specialises in decolonisation and nation-building in Southeast Asia. He can be contacted at: email@example.com.