Author's abstract: This article argues that Australia reimagined its geopolitical identity in the mid-20th century by
recollocating the two terms of its unique, contradictory status as an island continent. Whereas
colonial Australia had stressed the continental element of this descriptor, the middle years of
the 20th century witnessed a shift in self-perception that laid stress on Australia as an island.
This article identifies a wide, interconnected range of reasons for this change that turns on the
dilemma of national interiority. Where Walter Benjamin identified the correlation between the
domestic interior of the bourgeois dwelling in modernity and the imagined interior life of its
inhabitant, the Australian encounter with European modernism transposed this analogy onto
the newly colonized interior of the continent itself. At this complex intersection between
identity and space, this article argues, the dilemma of a national interiority in played out as a
predicate of possession.