Australian national identity

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  • Publié le : 4 avril 2011
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Nowadays, it is generally agreed to say that contemporary societies are culturally heterogeneous. Australia is a great example of multiculturalism because the country is partially based on immigration, and more than a hundred nationalities are mixed there. That is why the concept of Australia National Identity is fuzzy: the feeling of belonging to a group with a consciousness of their ownhistorical, cultural and social unity is not shared by every Australian people. While John Howard, when he was Prime Minister, encouraged people from immigration to speak English to stay in Australia, it raises a matter. In a country where languages, religions and ideologies are different, can Australian people find a way to make people of distinct groups coexist, and finally find a common NationalIdentity? Do unification and cohesion necessarily need minorities’ adaptation to English language and customs? In that essay, we will see that colonization and waves of immigration created minority’ populations. Then follow the second part, explaining that the Australia National Identity is still in construction, and that ‘minority’ populations undermine it.

Anthropologists that call “’minority’populations” mean communities that identify with a dialect, a common history and a territory. (Identité(s) L’idividu, le groupe, la société p.239) Australia, before becoming the land of immigration, was first inhabited by Aborigines for ages, but colonization has a huge impact on Australian culture today. Settlers stole lands already inhabited, without trying to understand inhabitants who lived onthe territory before us. By introducing their way of thinking and living, they deprived Aborigines of their human rights. Throughout the 19th century, there was a progressive destruction of Aboriginal culture. They became victims, voluntary isolated by the government. That cultural despised has consequences today: Aborigines are considered as a minority’ population, whereas they were the firstinhabitants. The reconciliation process is a quite recent phenomenon. Before 1991, Australian preferred to keep what their ancestors have done to Aborigines secret. Step by step, the Australian government begs the pardon and recognizes what have done. Yet, getting over 200 years of oppression whereas their story was recognized for only 20 years seems impossible. Colonization leaves a bitter taste:Aborigines were proud of their culture but now they have turned into the poorest and most disadvantage people with low self esteem. It’s clear that there is a desire to move on and start a new beggining. However find a solution between two parts with completly different way of thinking seems very hard. Business approach is not a solution fitted to the Indigeneous Australians people, because theydon’t think in term of profit. In the Text of PM Rudd’s ‘Sorry’ Address of February 13, 2008, Prime Minister said “unless we as a Parliament set a destination for the nation, we have no clear point to guide our policy, our programs or our purpose; we have no centralised organising principle”. It clearly means that build a united Australia is still a dream nowadays.
An idée reçue about Australia isthat it is a new country, in opposite to old European nations. (Pons 2006) But it clearly depends on the point of view of the Australian inhabitant. As we said before, for aboriginal people, Australia has existed for ages since it was populated by their aboriginal ancestors. For British explorers, history of Australia starts in the 18th century, when they decided to visit the land for scientificreasons. They also thaught it was a good place for a new settlement. That idea rapidily changed, and Australia became the “British rubbish dump”. A penitentiary colony was settled, and it represented an important wave of immigration. Irish convicts were also sent in Australia, because of labour shortage, but they were considered as enemmies. Indeed, British settlers imported protestant religion,...
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