Hyde Park Barracks

Amy Rathbone


Hyde Park Barracks has served as convict housing, a home to free immigrants, destitute women and orphans and as an administrative hub. Now it realises Australian nationalism as a museum about all of these things. This paper aims to demonstrate that the site, during all of its uses, has been infested by the ideas of modernity and postmodernity. It suggests that to understand the site, one must acknowledge both the forces of colonialism, imperialism, Marxism and capitalism from which it grew and the notions about Australian identity and nationality that it has inspired. The paper makes note that this shifting use of space had not been without the class relations and inequalities identified in Marxist philosophy. The paper then problematizes the identity spawned by the Barracks and questions whether ‘Australia’ really exists. Drawing the argument together, it reveals history as a collision of unstable ideas cloaked in ambiguity.

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