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'The Exception that Proves the Rule'?: National Fear, Racial Loathing, Chinese Writing in "UnAustralia"

Published in Antipodes. 2009, vol. 23, no. 1, p. 17-22
Abstract In this essay I explore the idea that an exceptional cultural space, which I am calling "unAustralia," offers a deconstructive vantage point from which we can observe at work the normative ideological processes (the "rules") that promote an experience of national belonging for some, by excluding others. The interplay of Asian, Aboriginal, and European identities and histories in Ouyang Yu's poetry and in Simone Lazaroo's The Australian Fiancé (2000) is complemented and complicated in Hsu-Ming Teo's Behind the Moon (2005) where she creates a mixed-race Asian refugee character who is of Vietnamese and black American descent. These texts bring into post-Hansonite Australia the history of racialized fear and loathing that is foundational to the formation of Australia as a territorial nation-state, as many commentators have noted. What these texts enact is an alternative national epistemology -- a racialized understanding of the link between territoriality, nationality, and privilege -- where the white mainstream becomes Other and what is known in white national constructions as "us" becomes "them." My interest is in the textual representation of moments when the "homeliness" (Freud's heimlich) of the hegemonic national narrative is disrupted by confrontation with the excluded Other (coded as yellow or black or both in my selected texts). These moments of "unhomeliness," these irruptions of Freud's "uncanny" (unheimlich), shape the symbolic textures of Lazaroo's novel and Teo's, and are perhaps best introduced in terms of Ouyang Yu's poetic deconstruction of normative Australian national discourses.
Keywords DiasporaChinese-AustraliaIndigeneityRaceNationalism
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MADSEN, Deborah Lea. 'The Exception that Proves the Rule'?: National Fear, Racial Loathing, Chinese Writing in "UnAustralia". In: Antipodes, 2009, vol. 23, n° 1, p. 17-22. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:20355

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Deposited on : 2012-05-11

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