“Claiming Chinatown: Asian Australians and the making of urban culture”
Chinatowns have traditionally functioned as ethnic enclaves which were despised by the dominant western culture, while functioning for Chinese immigrants as a refuge from the hostile white society they were surrounded by. Today, the meaning of Chinatowns has been transformed, as they have become more open, hybrid and transnational urban spaces, increasingly interconnected within the broader Asia-Pacific region. For Asian Australians, Chinatown may be a site of conflicting memories of Australia’s racist history and of cultural marginalisation and ethnic survival, but it is also – in today’s multicultural and cosmopolitan age – an area to be claimed for the expression of new Asian-Australian identities. In Sydney’s Chinatown, as I will explore in this talk, public art projects by Asian Australian artists such as Jason Wing and Lindy Lee articulate some of the complexities and contradictions of what it means to be Asian in Australia today.
BIO: Ien Ang is a Professor of Cultural Studies and the founding Director of the ICS. She is one of the leaders in cultural studies worldwide, with interdisciplinary work spanning many areas of the humanities and social sciences. Her books include On not speaking Chinese, recognised as a classic in the field. Her work has been translated into many languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Turkish, German, Korean, and Spanish. Her most recent book, co-edited with E. Lally and K. Anderson, is The art of engagement: culture, collaboration, innovation (University of Western Australia Press, 2011). Ien’s innovative interdisciplinary work deals broadly with patterns of cultural flow and exchange in our globalised world, focusing on issues such as the politics of identity and difference; migration, ethnicity and multiculturalism in Australia and Asia; and issues of representation in contemporary cultural institutions.
Her current ARC research project is ‘Sydney’s Chinatown in the Asian Century: from Ethnic Enclave to Global Hub’ (with Donald McNeill and Kay Anderson in collaboration with the City of Sydney). She currently chairs an Expert Working Group on Asia Literacy: Language and Beyond, for the Australian Council of Learned Academies’ Securing Australia’s Future program
“How socially mobile are we?”
Australian society is typically considered one which enjoys social mobility. But to what extent is such mobility enjoyed by Australians of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds? How should we access levels of social mobility in a multicultural Australia? This address reflects on contemporary forms of racial prejudice and discrimination. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Racial Discrimination Act, it is timely to reflect on the role of the law and education in overcoming such barriers to social mobility and equal opportunity.
BIO: Tim Soutphommasane is commenced his five-year appointment as the Race Discrimination Commissioner on 20 August 2013. Prior to joining the Australian Human Rights Commission, he was a political philosopher at the University of Sydney. His thinking on multiculturalism and national identity has been influential in reshaping debates in Australia and Britain.
Tim is the author of four books, I’m not racist but … (2015), The Virtuous Citizen (2012), Don’t Go Back To Where You Came From (2012), and Reclaiming Patriotism (2009). He was co-editor (with Nick Dyrenfurth) of All That’s Left (2010). He has been an opinion columnist with The Age and The Weekend Australian newspapers, and in 2013 presented the documentary series “Mongrel Nation” on ABC Radio National.
A first-generation Australian of Chinese and Lao extraction, Tim was raised in southwest Sydney. He completed a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Philosophy (with distinction) at the University of Oxford, and is a first-class honours graduate of the University of Sydney.