Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty of Education and Arts
Through the medium of the novel and an accompanying essay, this project explores the relationship, particularly since the end of World War II, between the dominant (Anglo-Celtic) and non-dominant Australian cultural groups. I argue that upholding the dominance of Anglo-Celtic culture, particularly as a centre or “core” of Australian identity, is discriminatory and detrimental to the development of Australian society in general and the goal of multiculturalism in particular. Moreover, I question the thesis that Australia can have a “core” culture without marginalising the groups that do not reside within it. Instead of projecting Anglo-Celtic culture as the archetypal Australian identity and thereby reinforcing its hegemony, I argue that we should allow migrant cultures to impart their influence on Australian culture and identity. Only then can we facilitate a national identity representative of all Australians—a bone fide multiculturalism.
Anglo-Celtic Australia has a history of discriminating against non-Anglo-Celtic Australians and my novel, while focusing on the post-war migrant boom, attempts to articulate this antipathy as a continuum that stretches from white settlement to the present. The characters in my novel are symbols of my interpretation of the Australian cultural milieu and they express my main concern with race as a marker for national identity. I illuminate the irony inherent in the Australian ideals of tolerance and egalitarianism by juxtaposing these national myths with the treatment of, and antipathy toward, migrants and Australia’s indigenous.
Although my novel might be considered social realist, I was influenced by a range of authors and philosophers and I do not attempt to subvert the socio-economic hierarchy, as is the intent of many social realist novels. Indeed, I resist any categorisation of my novel as such, by, at times, questioning both poles of the political spectrum.
The theoretical bases that drove the narrative in my novel were influenced by the theses of sociologists, academicians and political and social philosophers that speak, directly or indirectly, to my interest in race, identity and the Australian cultural dynamic. I do not, however, attempt to provide an antidote to the cultural antipathy I chart. I seek merely to uncover and question it.
LCSH Subject Headings
Immigrants -- Australia -- Fiction.
Assimilation (Sociology) -- Australia.
Access to this thesis is restricted to the exegesis.
Armstrong, M. (2010). A novel - The dues of St Fitticks: and essay - Paying your dues in the lucky country: Anglo-Celtic Australian attitudes to migrants. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/1815