'I'm not Australian, I'm not Greek, I'm not Anything': Identity and the Multicultural Nation in Christos Tsiolkas's Loaded

Benjamin Authers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Developing out of the changing demographic composition of countries in the
    twentieth century, policies of multiculturalism embody an attempt by the state
    to encourage and celebrate ethno-cultural difference within national boundaries.
    It is, in the terms of Benedict Anderson’s influential model, a different way of
    “imagining” community, one that requires a rethinking of sameness and ethnic
    otherness so as to conceive of the nation as simultaneously fragmented and unified.
    Justified as a pluralism that promotes integration, it has been explicated by
    Charles Taylor as a “politics of recognition,” where individual dignity comes not
    just from a discourse of equality (that we are all the same, and deserving of the
    same protections), but also from a recognition of difference as fundamental to
    that dignity. In this model, multiculturalism is a natural continuation of rightsbased
    liberalism, adding to, but not disrupting, the ideological assertions of the
    nation. Yet, as critics such as Smaro Kamboureli have pointed out, this reading is
    problematic precisely because its “naturalness” remains unquestioned. In Taylor’s
    formulation, multiculturalism never challenges the assumptions of the liberal
    democratic state, it only reinforces them. A similar critique can be made of
    multiculturalism’s official manifestations: in their codification and application by
    government agencies, these policies function as a form of difference management,
    containing diversity in the service of the nation without becoming disruptive of
    it. In effect, official multicultural policy promotes a form of cultural heritage that
    is ossified and stagnant, fixing difference through the emblem of community.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)133-145
    Number of pages13
    JournalJASAL: Journal of The Association For The Study of Australian Literature
    Volume4
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Keywords

    • multiculturalism
    • pluralism
    • community

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