AHA 2018: Mark McKenna Keynote

The Spiritual Heart of the Commonwealth? Canberra and the House on the Hill: 1988-2018

2018, Parliament House’s thirtieth anniversary year, seems an ideal time to reassess Canberra’s claims for centrality, both as the ‘spiritual heart of the Commonwealth’ and the nation itself. How successful has the city and parliament been in winning a place for itself in the national imaginary? And exactly what kind of place has it won? The centre of a “national community”, or one far removed from the idealism that marked the city’s conception and the crowning of Capital Hill with Parliament House in 1988? In this lecture, Mark McKenna examines the complex relationship between place, democracy and nation. Traversing the history of both Canberra and Parliament House, he explores the many ways that design and architecture have influenced the fabric of our federal democracy and defined the Commonwealth’s aspirations for the future.

Keynote delivered by Mark McKenna of University of Sydney. Introduction by Nicholas Brown from the ANU School of History.