This is an in-depth country report on Australia in German for a German-speaking audience. Its eleven chapters provide a detailed overview of the country’s indigenous and colonial histories; political system; society and Kultur; education, migration, economic and security politics; and environmental issues. It finishes with an analysis of Australia’s position in the global economy.
Each chapter provides a self-contained outline of the topic, providing condensed information on a specific issue spanning its background, challenges and current status quo. The authors often compare Australia’s situation to the respective situation in Germany. This is particularly helpful in the sections dealing with politics and environmental issues, as it becomes clear that both countries could profit from an exchange of ideas; for example. Australia could look at the German model for dealing with environmental challenges while Germany could learn from Australia in regards to its integration policies.
The book is interspersed with short one to two-page vignettes addressing topics such as horse racing as a social event, sports and indigenous people in politics. Similarly, the book periodically introduces people who were influential in the making of Australia such as Caroline Chisholm, Friedrich Leichhardt, Vida Goldstein and prominent figures from the political world.
Länderbericht Australien is notable for providing insight into Australian sociological concepts such as “mateship” in an analytical yet entertaining way. Overall it is a must-read for German-speakers who wish to get to know Australians and their country without recourse to dry numbers and facts.
Bettina Biedermann and Heribert Dieter (Hrsg.), Länderbericht Australien, Bonn: Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, 2012, ISBN: 978-3-8389-0175-6.
Reviewed by Sophia Brook, AIIA National Office
Published February 1, 2014