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Asian Australian Literatures

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Published in Birns, N. Companion to Australian Literature. Elizabethtown NY: Camden House. 2007
Abstract This article offers an overview of the range of Asian-Australian writers, within the context of changing historical and political conditions, as well as the complexity of defining a single category of literature written by Australians of Asian heritage. Such a category is difficult to define in strictly nationalistic terms as ‘Asian Australian literature’: where Australian literature is the controlling noun and ‘Asian’ functions as an adjective. Some Asian Australian writers are Australian-born, others trace their Asian heritage through several generations; some write in English, others do not. For reasons of space, this essay deals only with anglophone Asian Australian writers. The ‘Asia’ encompassed by Asian Australian writers is protean, changing as patterns of Asian immigration to Australia changes. ‘Asia’ in an Australian context is generally taken to refer to the Far East or to Southeast Asia but increasingly migration from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) has broadened that image. Ethnic Chinese accounts for the largest Asian immigrant group in Australia but ‘ethnic Chinese’ is not a simple category. Some migrants of Chinese heritage come to Australia direct from the mainland (this is particularly true of the post-1989 generation of migrants) but others migrate out of the Southeast Asian Chinese diaspora and come to Australia via such countries as Singapore, Malaysia, or Indonesia. For these diasporic writers, ‘Chineseness’ can be a term to which they relate with difficulty. Despite the dominance of Chinese migrants within the Australian understanding of Asia, this essay takes a broad view of what kinds of ethnic background constitute Asianness. The ascription of ‘Asianness’, regardless of individual background or national inheritance, is an expression of Australia’s enduring anti-Asian racism, and we should be keenly aware of this problem when approaching Australian writers of Asian heritage.
Keywords Asian-Australian Literature‘White Australia policy’ImmigrationNationalismMena AbdullahYasmine GooneratneDewi AnggraeniBeth YahpHoa PhamLau Siew MeiSimone LazarooHsu Ming TeoArlene ChaiLillian NgOuyang YuAdam AitkenTom ChoBrian Castro
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ISBN: 1571133496
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MADSEN, Deborah Lea. Asian Australian Literatures. In: Birns, N. (Ed.). Companion to Australian Literature. Elizabethtown NY : Camden House, 2007. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:87697

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