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Dr Tim Soutphommasane

Research fellow, National Centre for Australian Studies

B.Ec. (Soc. Sc.) (Hons) Syd., M.Phil. (with Distinction) Oxf., D.Phil. Oxf.

View contact details in Monash Staff Directory

Recent Grants and Awards

ARC Linkage 2011-2014 Chief Investigator Anzac Day at home and abroad: a centenary history of Australia's national day. Lead CI is Professor Bruce Scates.

Latest Work

All's That's Left:  What Labor Should Stand For (edited with Nick Dyrenfurth)

New South Books, 2010

After a tumultuous few months that have seen an election-winning prime minister replaced as leader by Australia's first woman prime minister, many people are questioning what Labor stands for.  In this book, young, prominent thinkers, players and commentators -- as well as some experienced politicians -- tackle these questions in frank, personal and often surprising ways.

Contributors include Tim Soutphommasane, Nick Dyrenfurth, David Burchell, David Hetherington, Dennis Glover, Geoff Gallop, Tony Moore, Larissa Behrendt, Paul Howes and Lindsay Tanner.

The Hon. Greg Combet, AM, MP, federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, launched All That's Left at NSW Parliament in November November 2010.  All That's Left was also launched in Canberra by The Hon. Wayne Swan, MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer at Parliament House in November 2010, and in Brisbane by QLD ALP State President, Andrew Dettmer.


"The 10 essays collected in All That's Left offer timely suggestions for Labor's strategic and policy direction ... The book's strength is to showcase new thinking for progressive politics in Australia ... There are many ideas in this book that will be useful as Labor contemplates its future."
- The Weekend Australian

"In the tradition of the political pamphlet, the contributors outline their vision for the left ... This is a must for the PM's summer reading list."
- The Age

Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives

Cambridge University Press, 2009

Affronted by the xenophobic nationalists who stalked the land during the Howard years, many progressive Australians have rejected a love of country, forgetting that there is a patriotism of the liberal left that at different times has advanced liberty, egalitarianism, and democratic citizenship.

Tim Soutphommasane, a first-generation Australian and political theorist who has journeyed from Sydney's southwest suburbs to Oxford University, re-imagines patriotism as a generous sentiment of democratic renewal and national belonging. In accessible prose he explains why our political leaders will need to draw upon the better angels of patriotism if they hope to inspire citizens for nation-building, and indeed persuade them to make sacrifices in the hard times ahead. As we debate the twenty-first century challenges of reconciliation and a republic, citizenship and climate change, Reclaiming Patriotism proposes a narrative we have to have.

Reclaiming Patriotism was published by Cambridge University Press in September 2009 as the lead title of its Australian Encounters series and launched by the Hon. Bob Carr, former premier of New South Wales. It was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Award (Community Relations Commission Award) 2010 and was longlisted for the John Button Prize 2010.


"... thought-provoking ... Soutphommasane's subtitle, Nation-Building for Australian Progressives, shows the scale of his ambition ... Broader in range than may be expected, this book proceeds from its wider sense of patriotism to outline a national agenda."
- The Australian Literary Review

" ... lucid, measured and very sensible ... In weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of the patriotic impulse [Soutphommasane is] admirably calm and detached, and this serves as a kind of intellectual tonic."
- The Weekend Australian

"This thoughtful book distils five years of research in political theory at Oxford University and, although its message is aimed at a left-liberal audience, it is likely to make even the politically disinterested reader reconsider his or her views on patriotism ... philosophically compelling ... Soutphommasane outlines a path for progressives to harness the moral power of a national tradition without compromising their commitment to equality.  Even those without patriotic heartstrings won't be immune to the power of his argument."
- The Sydney Morning Herald

"For the left, patriotism has long been equated with jingoism and mindless flag-waving ... Soutphommasane mounts a persuasive case as to why patriotism can be a positive force for change."
- The Age

"When a young, first generation Australian of Chinese and Lao heritage takes up the challenge of writing about Australian patriotism, it seems something to celebrate ... Reclaiming Patriotism is a timely contribution to many of the debates about the shape of Australia's future ... Michael Ignatieff, renowned scholar and possibly Canada's next Prime Minister, has recently written that "loving a country is an act of the imagination".  Tim Soutphommasane has delivered his own version of such an act.  His palpable love of Australia means that this act is a most welcome one."
- The Canberra Times


Tim Soutphommasane is a political philosopher and research fellow at the National Centre for Australian Studies.  He is also a senior project leader at the Per Capita think tank and columnist with The Weekend Australian.

Tim has written widely for the British and Australian press, among other things as a contributing leader-writer for The Financial Times and The Guardian.  His commentary has appeared in The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Monthly, The Australian Literary Review and The Spectator.

Tim worked on the speechwriting staff of Bob Carr when he was NSW premier and on the staff of then opposition leader Kevin Rudd during the 2007 federal election campaign.  He completed his doctorate in political theory at the University of Oxford, where he was a Commonwealth Scholar and where he served as editor-in-chief of The Oxonian Review of Books (2006-08).  He also completed a master of philosophy at Oxford and is a first-class honours graduate of the University of Sydney.

Research Interests

Tim’s research interests include:

  • political theory and political philosophy (patriotism, citizenship, deliberative democracy);
  • the history of ideas (development of liberal, nationalist and social democratic ideologies);
  • Australian politics and society (national identity, immigration, political culture).



  • All That's Left:  What Labor Should Stand For, New South Books, 2010 (editor, with Nick Dyrenfurth)
  • Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives, Cambridge University Press, 2009

Book Chapters and Articles

N. Dyrenfurth & T. Soutphommasane ‘Introduction', in N. Dyrenfurth & T. Soutphommasane (eds.)  All That's Left:  What Labor Should Stand For, New South Books, 2010

"Social justice and the good society", in N. Dyrenfurth & T. Soutphommasane (eds.)  All That's Left: What Labor Should Stand For, New South Books, 2010

T. Soutphommasane & N. Dyrenfurth, "Postscript: What Labor Should Stand For", in N. Dyrenfurth & T. Soutphommasane (eds.)  All That's Left:  What Labor Should Stand For, New South Books, 2010

"The Politics of Recognition and an Ideology of Multiculturalism", in Recognition in Politics: Theory, Policy and Practice, J. Connolly, M. Leach & L. Walsh (eds.), Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007, pp. 155-74

'Surrendering Nationalism', Griffith Review, Vol. 16 (Winter 2007)
'Liberalism, Harm, and the Limits of Free Speech', AQ:  Australian Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 5 (Sep-Oct 2006)

'The Ethics of Identity', Thesis Eleven, Vol. 85 (May 2006), pp. 115-118

'The Politics of Engaging the Nation', AQ: Australian Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Jan-Feb 2006), pp. 35-37

'Grounding Multicultural Citizenship: From Minority Rights to Civic Pluralism'
, Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov 2005), pp. 401-16

Conference Papers

(with Nick Dyrenfurth) ‘Social democracy's greatly exaggerated death', Farewell to Social Democracy?, Sydney Democracy Initiative Symposium, University of Sydney, 3 December 2010

‘Translating between patriotism and multiculturalism', Found in Translation:  Textual Explorations of Australia and the World conference, Monash Prato Centre, Monash University, Prato, Italy, 25 September 2010

‘Does dual citizenship devalue civic solidarity?', Allegiance and Identities in a Globalised World workshop, Centre for Public and International Law, Australian National University, Canberra, 20 July 2010

"The National Limits of Diversity", New Politics Seminar: New Visions for Australia, Deakin University, 19-20 September 2009"

"A Response to Cosmopolitanism", Faculty Colloqium, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney, 13 September 2009

"Liberal Nationalism and Cultural Literacy", Aliens and Nations, Association of Social and Legal Philosophy Annual Conference, Keele University, Keele, UK, 19-21 April 2007

"Deliberating as National Citizens", Graduate Political Theory Workship, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Oxford, 25 January 2007

"Difference, Deliberation and National Culture", Dialogue Across Difference:  Governance in a Multicultural Era conference, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 4-5 December 2006

"An Ideology of Multiculturalism?", The Politics of Recognition conference, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, 30-31 July 2005

Other Articles

'Can Australian Labor lead for the long-term?', Policy Network Social Democracy Observatory, 22 November 2010

'People get ready', The Australian Literary Review, 3 November 2010

'Multiculturalism can survive but can we call it something else?', The Australian, 22 October 2010

'Dear PM: risks are worth it in reform', The Weekend Australian, 18 September 2010

Memo to a Progressive Prime Minister: Leadership for the long-term, Per Capita, September 2010

'The true believers must now rally to save Labor's languishing soul', The Australian, 25 August 2010

'Labor's wasted opportunities', The Guardian (Comment is free), 22 August 2010

'From Vienna to Vancouver dense cities are better', The Australian, 28 July 2010

'Why Labor ditched Kevin Rudd', The Guardian (Comment is free), 24 June 2010

'Labor needs a practical, not a moral, approach to climate change', The Australian, 14 June 2010

'From stir-fries to ham sandwiches', East Asia Forum Quarterly, 3 June 2010

'Soft labour', The Australian Literary Review, June 2010

'In the laps of the pedagogues', The Weekend Australian, 29 May 2010

'Wrestling with the colonisation of intellect', The Weekend Australian, 8 May 2010

'One day of the year also important to non-Anglo immigrants', The Australian, 28 April 2010

'Nation-building leader would back bigger country', The Australian, 21 April 2010

'What's the story? Nation-building narratives in climate politics'
, Policy Network essay, 20 April 2010

'New Labour and the ALP', The Monthly, April 2010

'Progressively liberal', The Monthly, March 2010

'The enduring legacy of Pauline Hanson', The Guardian (Comment is free), 16 February 2010

'Diary', Spectator Australia, 6 February 2010

'Leave Marx out of it', The Australian Literary Review, February 2010

'Let's celebrate our sense of belonging', The Australian, 26 January 2010

'India confronts Australia over racism', The Guardian (Comment is free), 7 January 2010

View online various articles for The Australian and The Weekend Australian newspapers.

For a list of articles published since 2007 see my personal website: