Gooneratne, Yasmine. (1989) `How Barry Changed his Image.`
This reading describes a racial identity rift between a couple who are struggling to find a homogeneous cultural identity as it chronicles the experiences of Bharat and Navaranjini Wickrarnasingha as they transform into Barry and Jeanie Wicks. Barry and Jean are an Asian couple attempting to assimilate into Australian culture.
The situation is described by Jean and from her perspective as she describes her husband’s identity crisis and her attempt to accommodate his goal of assimilating into Australian culture. Barry is described as a westernized Asian. Jean, on the other hand, is from Sri Lanka and has what she considers a more traditional and correct Asian perspective. In one discourse she describes those from India and Sri Lanka as real Asians, noting that far eastern Asians, which she calls Ching-Chongs, are mistaken by Australians as Asians. Jean learns to speak Australian by listening to talk radio, and Barry wears contacts to look more acceptable. Barry’s image problems began after an Australian sociologist spoke out against, and was affirmed by several newspapers, Australia’s Asian immigration problem.
Upon meeting the professor Jean explained the road to racism taken by this professor. First she highlights his ignorance of various eastern or Asian ethnicities. Second, she explains the re-naming ritual that the couple went through describing the derogatory and diminutive meanings of some of the more acceptable names they considered. Finally, she points out the difference between the couple, real Asians, and other far eastern Asians. In the process Jean discovers that Australians are much the same as Asians in thought, word, and expression.
Giroux, Henry A. (1998) `The Politics of National Identity and the Pedagogy of Multiculturalism in the USA.`
This article discusses the evolution of national identity in the United States along with the factors that influence national identity. The author argues that national identity cannot successfully be formed in the arena of the media, and suggests a comprehensive approach for facilitating national identity through an education based curriculum.
Globalization has created an atmosphere of multiculturalism that has challenged the traditional approaches to defining national identity. Globalization is also the platform that the United States uses to export the concept of democracy to the world. Traditional U.S. approaches to national identity do not line up with those of the rest of the world. The melting pot concept suggests that national identity depends on ethnic, cultural, and racial homogeneity, and idea which is supported by and pitched by a liberal media that presents the multi cultural concept as unpatriotic. This flawed approach should be replaced by a new way of defining and teaching national identity.
The definition of national identity in a democracy must be built across multi- racial and cultural lines taking multiple languages and histories into account. Cultural differences should be viewed as normal and constructive as opposed to deviant and disruptive. National identity and multiculturalism must become complements and advocates, not replacements and adversaries. A multi cultural national identity can be achieved through a curriculum that teaches diversity, that acknowledges and challenges under representation of minorities, that unites differences, and that includes the community and educators in developing and implementing a multi cultural curriculum.
Huat, Chua Beng. (1998) `Culturalism, Multiculturalism, and National Identity in Singapore.`
This article describes how the the government in Singapore has built the nation’s identity based on racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic differences. Singapore’s citizens are Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, and Indonesian. Each group is encouraged, even required, to maintain it’s own linguistic and religious traditions by the government. Each group is required to learn it’s own language and religion as defined by the government with the goal of maintaining the cultural traditions of Singaporeans. The purpose of this policy is to prevent any one group, specifically the Chinese, from becoming a privileged majority.
Singapore has created this multiracial, multi religious, and multi linguistic national identity primarily to protect the country’s economic interests and political position. Singapore has been constructed to define Asian values and Asian identity by legislating the maintenance of Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and Confucian religious traditions, along with native languages, and official ethnic identification of people.
What is unique about this situation is that even with all the government intervention designed to compartmentalize the society, everyday life is characterized by the blurring of cultural lines which the government seeks to prevent. National identity in Singapore is characterized by multi cultural foods and a developing hybrid language that survives and thrives beyond engineered government education curricula. Like other countries, Singapore is more characterized by globally understood economic classes than by the narrow Asian identities.
Stratton, Jon. (1998) `Pauline Hanson, John Howard, and the Conservative Politics of Official Multiculturalism.`
This article examines the question of whether multi culturalism is actually counterproductive to building national identity. Some in Australia put forth the idea that multi culturalism is counterproductive to national unity, and that leads to division instead of productive diversity. The article warns against cultural pluralism, drawing attention to the problems incurred as the American national identity was built through the progressive recognition and assimilation of many immigrant groups.
Australian multi culturalism is constructed from a core, or mainstream, culture, and an environment of tolerance and is presented as an alternative to the environment of assimilation which is a component of Americanism. Tolerance is extended toward and assimilation is expected from the non Australian ethnicities. In addition to tolerance, multi culturalism is more acceptable when is it more moderate and articulate. This article highlights the challenges of constructing a national identity from the perspective of cultural similarities or by drawing upon cultural and ethnic differences.
Not only does the article compare and contract American cultural pluralism and Australian multi culturalism, it also provides a framework to compare other countries’ construction of national identity and define those systems as multi cultural or ethnically pluralistic.
Brady, Wendy and Carey, Michele. (2000) `Talkin up Whiteness: A Black and White Dialogue.`
This article discusses individual identity as opposed to national identity. The Australian national identity consists of two individual identities, blak Aboriginals and white Australians. The challenge put forth for the authors is how to address the conflicting concepts that both white and Aboriginals have of themselves as well as the other group. According to Brady, whites define Aboriginals in terms of color. Aboriginals define whites in terms of wealth, power, and social status. According to Carey, racial identity provides a bond through which Aboriginals respond to shared experiences in Australian society. In examining racial attitudes, the article raises the question, what constitutes the white identity?
The article concludes that the white identity is not well defined among white people, while white identity is synonymous with oppressors to Aboriginals. White is defined as normal, non indigenous, and as civilized by white people. Consequently, many white students are unable to express the meaning of whiteness symbolically. The authors do not accept the scientific concept of race and racial categories.
The implication, then, is that both white and Aboriginal Australians need to redevelop their individual identities. Aboriginals should define themselves as nations within a nation. Whites should define themselves as non Aboriginals. Removing concepts of color, intelligence, being civilized (or not), being an oppressor (or not), and relative social and economic power will allow both groups to form a new level of relationships that will benefit the national identity of Australians as a whole.