Don't go back to where you came from

Don't go back to where you came from

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: UNSW Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Don't go back to where you came from
    Book Description:

    Tim Soutphommasane boldly stakes a claim for the overwhelming success of multiculturalism in Australia. European governments are declaring multiculturalism a failure, with many conservatives in Australia hastening to agree. But is a multicultural approach to integration and diversity really as destructive as critics say? Have we been too quick to declare its demise? Offering an unflinching and informed defence of cultural diversity, Soutphommasane shows that multiculturalism is more than laksa, kebabs or souvlaki and that it doesn’t automatically spell cultural relativism, ethnic ghettos or reverse racism. In fact, multicultural Australia has been a national success story.

    eISBN: 978-1-74224-610-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vi-xiv)

    Mention multiculturalism and veils, and one naturally thinks of the controversies that have raged over burqas and hijabs. Yet it was through a very different kind of veil that I was introduced to debates about multiculturalism in the late 1990s. At the time, Pauline Hanson was at the peak of her popularity, leading her One Nation Partyʹs crusade against Asian immigration, multiculturalism and political correctness. During lunchtimes at high school I found myself in debates with students and teachers about whether Hanson was racist; whether she was right about the country being swamped by Asians. There were a good number...

  4. 1 The life and times of multiculturalism
    (pp. 1-44)

    The precise time of multiculturalismʹs birth is open to debate. Some would say that pluralism has always been present in Australia, given the original presence of some 700 indigenous nations, speaking more than 250 languages – all long before the arrival of the British. Others highlight that the First Fleet included soldiers, sailors and convicts with ancestral origins in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Others, meanwhile, note that the goldfields of the 19th century were something of a cultural laboratory, populated as they were by diggers from a multitude of nationalities. Yet few would seriously dispute that cultural diversity,...

  5. 2 The Australian model
    (pp. 45-78)

    Just off John Street, the bustling main street in the south-west Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, stands the ornate Freedom Gate. Built of white marble and teak and standing over five metres tall, the archway is adorned with tiles in a Chinese style. It bears a number of inscriptions. Spelled out in bold are ʹLibertyʹ and ʹDemocracyʹ, both of which are written in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer and Lao. At the Gateʹs centre, there is an exhortation: ʹTo rest in the highest excellence.ʹ On its left pillar: ʹTo be renovative and integrate.ʹ And on its right: ʹTo understand illustrious virtue.ʹ


  6. 3 How racist is this country?
    (pp. 79-126)

    It is a balmy night, on the eve of Australia Day, 2010. In Canberraʹs Federation Mall, just outside Parliament House, Patrick McGorry has just been named Australian of the Year. A free concert, part of the official celebrations, is getting underway before a mall that is awash with blue. The majority of the youthful concertgoers are wearing the Australian flag one way or another. Many wear it draped over their shoulders or have fashioned it into a sarong. As I wade my way through the growing crowd I feel like Iʹm navigating a sea of national pride.

    It isnʹt until...

  7. 4 A bigger Australia
    (pp. 127-163)

    Prime ministers in Australia, unlike presidents in the US, donʹt have inaugurations at which they declare their program for government. But this doesnʹt mean they donʹt use their first speeches to signal how they will govern. In July 2010, two weeks after replacing Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, Julia Gillard delivered her first significant policy speech to an audience at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. There was a symmetry to the occasion: here was Gillard, Australiaʹs first overseas-born Prime Minister since Billy Hughes, speaking at a think tank founded by one of Australiaʹs most distinguished immigrants, billionaire Frank Lowy (who...

  8. 5 The sovereignty of fear
    (pp. 164-195)

    In his fiction anthologyThe Boat, expatriate Australian writer Nam Le concludes with a poignant story about Vietnamese refugees, crammed on to a boat, journeying through rough seas. After twelve days, seemingly adrift, they finally sighted land. A ʹswell of excitementʹ ran through the boat. ʹWe made it,ʹ one of the boat people announces. ʹWeʹre safe now.ʹ Yet the elation is momentary. It soon emerges that another of their number – a small boy, Truong – has perished in the hold below the deck. With a blurry peninsula in sight, those on the boat give Truong his burial at sea,...

  9. Afterword: Having a go
    (pp. 196-205)

    A few years ago I was a guest on a radio program, having been invited to talk about Australian identity. After a brief discussion, the host took some calls from listeners. I vividly recall the contribution from a listener called Mick. ʹWhen I think of Australia,ʹ he said, ʹI think of hardworking blokes and good-looking sheilas. I donʹt think anyone cares where you come from, as long as you have a go.ʹ Some of us may rightly bristle at the ockerisms, but Mick gets the basic point correct. That ethos of having a go, and giving people a fair go,...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 206-208)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 209-231)
  12. Index
    (pp. 232-238)