Understanding the Discourse of Racialised Asian-Australians: Deconstructing Stories of and Explanations for Racism
Previous research on racism and anti-racism have been criticised for focusing more on the perpetrator and thus failing to take into account the voices of those who have been targets of racism. This paper seeks to address this gap by providing insights into the repertoires of understanding that ordinary Asian-Australians draw upon in response to racialisation. What do stories of Asian-Australians' experiences of racism reveal about how they view racism and anti-racism? What discursive strategies do they use to explain, rationalise or challenge racism? Drawing from social construction theory, discourse studies and critical race theory, I provide a thematic analysis of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 60 first-generation Asian migrants. The sample was restricted to those who self-identified as having experienced racism. My analysis reveals patterns in the use of "hidden transcripts" (Scott, 1990) or discursive strategies that include: denying or downplaying racism; rationalising racism; taking the blame for racism; reversing racism; and blaming it on the system. I argue that these multiple and often contradictory discourse serve to challenge racism but at times also reproduce and legitimise racialisation. Finally, I suggest that discourse also shape the way people respond to the call to be anti-racist (and to not merely be non-racist).
Keywords: Racism and Racialisation, Anti-racism, Asian-Australian, Discourse, Migration
Ms Maria Elisa Hollero
PhD Candidate, School of Social Science and Policy, University of New South Wales