Title

The Fellowship of Strangers

Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Jill Durey

Abstract

The Fellowship of Strangers highlights the propensity for Anglo-Australians to resist the inclusion of non-Anglo migrants into mainstream Australian society. Government directives - the White Australia policy and the doctrine of assimilation-often lead the resistance but it is certain that latent racial, religious and social attitudes of some Anglo-Australians (and other groups) are influential. My contention is that Australia's non-Anglo migrants gain access to the dominant group only after the arrival of a new migrant group: relief from intolerance comes only when that intolerance can be directed elsewhere. By linking six stories set in different eras. I have traced an historical continuum from the 1840s until the present. Whereby Australia's dominant group has demonised new arrivals who do not conform to the white British Australian ideal. Although the writing style is closely linked to the works or Australian writers in the realist and social realist genres, the content differentiates it from most of their works. Australian realist writers tend to maintain Anglo-centric narratives that resonate with the mainstream. The Fellowship of Strangers is, in this sense, more closely aligned with Australian ethnic writers. However, most Australian ethnic writers tend to write only about their own cultures and experiences, often-though not always-idealised, and they seldom link their own experience to groups who came before or to those that followed. The originality of The Fellowship of Strangers is that it shows the antipathy and intolerance directed toward non-Anglo Australians from many perspectives-though without attempting to achieve this with an ethnic "voice"-historically linking one ethnic group to another. It highlights the paradoxical nature of Australia's "egalitarian society" where social acceptance, if ever, is a generational task. This opens up further enquiry into the forces that shape Australian identity, however unpalatable or contradictory to the idealist’s image.

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