In the present era of globalisation nation-states have increasingly aligned themselves within regional blocs. The European Union is perhaps the most prominent one of these transnational regions. The formation of such regions has been based on geographical proximity and shared economic and political interests, but the very idea of a region - eg 'Europe' - is generally underpinned by strongly held notions of cultural affinity. It is often through cultural arguments and discourses - pertaining to identity, civilisation, religion, even race - that contestations over regional inclusion and exclusion are played out.
My research focuses on the cultural dimensions of contemporary Asian regionalism from the point of view of Australia. As a Western nation-state located in an overwhelmingly non-Western region, Australia provides an excellent site for observing processes of global cultural change in a time when "Asia" - home of the two new economic powerhouses of China and India and of the world's largest Muslim nation, Indonesia - is set to become the centre of the global forcefield. Australia's complex and ambivalent relationship with Asia gives us insight into some of the cultural manifestations of the gradual de-centering of the West in ways which is still hardly recognised in Western Europe.