Edited By Irene Maria F. Blayer and Dulce Maria Scott
Chapter Three: A Precarious Whiteness: Exploring Australian Cultural Diversity through the Legacies of the Portuguese Empire
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A Precarious Whiteness
Exploring Australian Cultural Diversity through the Legacies of the Portuguese Empire
My interview with Xavier occurred on a hot summer day in subtropical Australia. As we talked, he laboriously peeled a large bag of small river prawns and recalled childhood days in Portuguese India spent similarly preparing food with his mother. In the living room behind us, a large crucifix and religious symbol hung from the wall. Next to them hung a wooden copy of a family crest that unabashedly drew attention to his Portuguese identity. Draping over the crest was a small Australian flag. As we chatted, he emphasised that he had “only ever had Australians” as friends in Australia, and that he had quickly distanced himself from formal ethnic organisations. Indeed, none of the smiling photographs that adorned the walls had any friends that were not white. Instead, they were stereotypically Australian images of drinking beer in the sun with friends. As we talked, Xavier reflected on Australia’s cultural diversity through the prism of his own migration story.
Xavier’s emphatic rejection of being “ethnic” was in many ways a predictable reflection of the value-laden terminology of Australia’s multicultural framework. His strong sense that Anglo-Australians accepted that he was not “ethnic” was noteworthy, however. Portuguese Indians offer an important case study of how cultural memories (of both migrants and permanent residents) influence migrant settlement experiences. Australia...
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