Modified Citizenship Practice

How have the many struggles to expand and deepen the meaning of citizenship been experienced and enacted by different groups at different times? How have immigrants interacted with and transformed the sense and meaning of citizenship and belonging? What have been some of the interactions and relationships between immigrant settler diasporas and Indigenous identities of belonging and being in Australia?

Event details

When: 9.30-11.00am (AEDT), Friday 18th November 2022
Where: Ballarat Goods Shed


Dr Alexandra Dellios

Access And Equity, Representation And Participation: Revisiting Ethnic Rights Campaigns from the 1970s/1980s

In public hearings held for the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty in the early 1970s, G.S Green from the Australian-Jewish Welfare Society, argued that “surely the Australian population has reached the stage where it is mandatory at any such institution serving a large portion of the population that there should be inbuilt some provision for catering to those who are not of basic English or Australian origin?” Forty years later, as we continue to grapple with the disproportionate effects of Covid on ethnic-minority communities, the same questions are being asked—about institutional representation, equitable communication, and responsive welfare services for communities without an Anglo-Celtic background. In this paper, I wish to return to certain moments in the 1970s and 1980s, when grassroots ethnic campaigns for equity and access reached a fever pitch. These communities’ voices—buoyed by a university educated second generation—spoke to a developing sense of Australianness and belonging that was hybrid, outward-looking, multi-ethnic, and bolstered by social justice agendas. Elements of these discussions continue to this day, as seen in recent reportage around the 2021 Census results. While the economic and workplace realities facing new and ethnicised migrants in Australia today are different, the root issues (access and equity, representation and participation) are remarkably consistent. This paper will also end by discussing the responsibilities of longer-established migrant and ethnic-minority communities, and their efforts to promote and educate their communities about the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Alexandra Dellios is a historian and senior lecturer in the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the Australian National University. Her research considers the public and oral history of migrant and refugee communities, their experiences of settlement, and working and family life. She is the author of Heritage Making and Migrant Subjects in the Deindustrialising Region of the Latrobe Valley (Cambridge University Press, April 2022) and Histories of Controversy: Bonegilla Migrant Centre (Melbourne University Publishing, 2017), editor of Memory and Family in Australian Refugee Histories (Routledge: 2019), and co-editor (with Eureka Henrich) of Migrant, Multicultural and Diasporic Heritage: Beyond and Between Borders (Routledge: 2020). She is Chair of the Editorial Board for Studies in Oral History, a founding member of the Australian Migration History Network, and Executive Committee member of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies.

Twitter: @AlecaDell 

Dr Anh Nguyen Austen

Refugee Childhood, Status, Citizenship, and Activism in the Global and Digital Diaspora

Citizenship is often considered the endpoint for refugees; however, Vietnamese in Australia and the global and digital diaspora continue to refer to their humanitarian and refugee status and heritage for global access and activism. In this overview of my research and activism with the Vietnamese diaspora in Australia and their connection to the global and digital diaspora, I will discuss how Vietnamese war orphans and refugees have mobilised their historical vulnerabilities to create new community practices of citizenship and belonging.

Global and Digital citizenship has been transformed in practices of diasporic belonging after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 when more than 2.7 million Vietnamese refugees resettled throughout the world, particularly in Australia, Canada, and United States. Technology, local citizenship, and resettlement allowed them to later organise as a global and digital diaspora on Facebook. Select oral histories including analysis of Facebook and the works of some local organisations such as VietSpeak and Viet Nam Family Search reveal how humanitarian and refugee status informed their local and global practices of civic engagement, especially amongst Vietnamese child refugees and war orphans who resettled in Australia.

Anh Nguyen Austen is the new series editor of Digital Diasporas Series with Routledge; Research Fellow in the Centre for Refugees at the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences of Australian Catholic University; and Research volunteer with Melbourne Museum in Australia. Her research engagement includes working with VietSpeak, community-based language advocacy group; Free to Feed, a food and storytelling social enterprise for refugees and asylum seekers; and Kid’s Own Publishing, an arts organisation for kids and community book making; and Viet Nam Family Search that assists war orphans reconnect with their birth heritage. Her current research includes exploration of refugee entrepreneurship and art practices, teaching game design and migration history, and publications about food and migration and climate change. Her forthcoming book is about Vietnamese refugees in Australia and the global and digital diaspora. Anh graduated from Bryn Mawr College, Harvard Divinity School, and completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne. She worked for native title land rights for Indigenous in Victoria, legal aid for immigrants in Boston, and HIV/AIDS research and treatment in Nigeria. You can listen to podcast about her research and refugee childhood in a Conversations with Richard Fidler and find her on Twitter as Joan_Of_Arts.

Mr Zac Roberts

“I thought I was the only one”: Citizenship and belonging among Aboriginal-Jewish communities

In 1999, Andrea Goldsmith wrote that, “Expulsion, massacre, genocide, eternal scapegoats: Jews and black Australians are equally experienced”. This statement is one of many that draws on the idea of a perceived ‘parallel journey’ between Jewish and Indigenous Australians; or the idea that both Jews and Indigenous people have experienced the same story of persecution, and triumph against all odds. Yet, despite this seemingly popular narrative, there is very little writing – scholarly or otherwise – that concerns the experiences of individuals who are both Jewish and Indigenous. In this paper, I draw on a series of oral history interviews conducted with Aboriginal people who are also Jewish – either by birth or conversion. These diverse experiences of citizenship, belonging, and identity to both their Indigenous and Jewish communities draws attention to some of the challenges faced by people belonging to two minority communities.

Zac Roberts is an Yuin scholar from the South Coast of New South Wales. His research interests centre on Indigenous histories, with a particular interest in interrogating the unspoken space of Indigenous narratives within the broader national history of Australia. Zac is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University, where he is researching the relationship between Indigenous and Jewish communities in Australia since 1788.

Twitter: @isaacjroberts

About the Symposium

Questions of citizenship and belonging have long featured in Australian public life. From the rights and citizenship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through to exclusionary immigration policies, from internment of ‘enemy aliens’ to citizenship controversies of the Australian parliament, from demands of loyalty from diaspora groups to cancelling the citizenship of terrorists, their widows and orphans.

Citizenship is both an externally protective and projective mechanism, and a marker of ‘who belongs’. Around the world, notions of citizenship are often divided between so called ‘civic’ and ‘ethnic’ principles. Australia’s own experience shows that forms of national belonging are more complex than this binary suggests.

The 53rd Annual Symposium will explore themes of loyalty and nationality, internationalism, mobility and how these interact with questions of participation, affiliation and the politics of ‘nativism’. Moving beyond legalistic approaches, it will imagine a new and unique Australian civilisational compact – a substantive kind of citizenship for a multicultural society with deep trans-national and diaspora connections and a reimagined polity negotiated with First Nations concepts and rights.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.