National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Prof. Michael Singh
Professor of Language and Culture, RMIT University, Melbourne

Commemorating Federation: Asian-Australian Perspectives on "White Australia Politics"

With the Centenary of Federation, this paper reports on interviews with a number of policy activists in Australian community life relating to the "residual" cultural power of White Australia politics in the imaginings of Australian society. Specifically, it reports on the views of opinion leaders and visionaries on Australia's future with respect to prospects for the Asian presence in Australia and what this might mean for the Anglo-ethnic culture of Whiteness. This paper provides a preliminary analysis of interviews undertaken with Australians of Asian backgrounds about what seems to be the fraught connections between the colonialist legacy of "White Australia politics" and the possibilities for Asian-Australians of having a voice in the affairs of this their country.

Michael Singh is Professor of Language and Culture at RMIT University; the Head of the Department of Language and International Studies, and the leader of the Research and Innovation in Globalisation and Cultural Diversity Forum. He was responsible for the conceptualisation of an innovative BA in International Studies which focuses on the policy and practice of local engagements with the problems and possibilities of globalisation; a global/local orientation to work integrated learning; and a choice of three streams of languages studies ­ global English; interpreting and translating, and othered languages. His research in the areas of multicultural education and Asia literacy has involved exploring a range of socially critical practices for teachers: strategic re-interpretation, counter-construction, standpoint pedagogy, mimicry, critical literacy and contrapuntal reading. Professor Singh is currently engaged in a joint Australia/Malaysia research project, with Associate Professor Peter Keel (RMIT) and Associate Professor Ambi Pandian (USM), on the business of teaching English as a global/local language. He is also contributing to an ARC funded project, with Professor Fazal Rizvi (RMIT) and Dr Georgina Tsolidis (Monash), on Asian students' uses of international education. Professor Singh is the author of Performance Indicators in Education (Deakin University Press, 1990); Translating Studies of Asia (ACSA, 1995); and Equity Issues: Every University's Concern, Whose Business? (with Anderson, Stehbens and Ryerson, DEETYA, 1998). He is currently completing a book entitled Commemorating Federation: Asian-Australian Perspectives on White Australia Politics.

Presentation Type
30 min Paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops