Anne Brewster


Australia is a nation formed by immigration. Nationalism's project is to recuperate or domesticate the centripetal forces immigrant constituencies engender within the culturally homogenous formation of the nation. It aims to construct a national ethno-history but in Australia ethnic constituencies' memory is plural and recent. One means by which compatriots can be turned into co-nationals is through their mobilisation into the vernacular language. Language plays an important role in the construction of any Qationalism as it is the medium by which individuals are interpellated as subjects in culture. It has what Etienne Balibar describes as a specifically 'plastic' role in multi-ethnic communities,1 in the sense that it naturalises new speakers quickly and assimilates them, but without providing the closure and exclusion that nationalism has traditionally needed to function efficiently. This closure has been supplied in the discourse of Australian aationalism by the rhetoric of multiculturalism and ethnicity.2



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