From White Australia to the Asian Century: Literature and migration in Australia



Publication Details

Prof Sneja Gunew, S. & Ommundsen, W. "From White Australia to the Asian Century: Literature and migration in Australia." Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Writers since 1945: Fourteen national Contexts in Europe and Beyond. Ed.W. Sievers & S. Vlasta. Boston: Leiden, 2018, 9-42.


While Australia is a settler-colonial nation built on immigration, the category 'migrant literature' ( or, more commonly, 'multicultural literature') has largely been reserved for writers of non-Anglo-Celtic background, and its integration into Australian literature has been slow and contested. This chapter traces the history of multicultural writing in English in relation to the cultural politics of Australia over the last four decades, along with its critical reception and theoretical framing. Virtually invisible within the canon of Australian literature until the 1980s, multicultural writers have gradually re­ceived greater recognition and some are now regarded as part of the mainstream liter­ary tradition. However, while the critical focus on Australian literature has shifted from national to transnational, multicultural writing in global languages other than English has barely been analysed. We argue that residual resistance to cultural diversity still prevents many writers from receiving the critical recognition they deserve.

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