Asian invisibility/Asian threat: Australians talking about Asia

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Abstract

Members of a marginal Australian political party recently sparked controversy by claiming China wants to ‘take over’ Australia. While apparently the opinion of a minority fringe, little is known about how Australians actually feel about Asia. This article explores the ways in which Asia is constructed in the Australian imagination, arguing it is both ‘invisible’, yet also a source of deep anxiety. Data from 26 focus groups conducted across Australia offer evidence of this invisibility, with Australians preferring to discuss domestic issues over international ones. But Asia is simultaneously a source of anxiety, in that when Australians do talk about Asia, it is in relation to a perceived threat from Asia’s economic power, its large population, its polluting practices, its military might, and its pursuit of mineral and agricultural resources. Such concerns mask fears of a cultural threat. Discursive analysis reveals how the threat from Asia is articulated, and implications for national and post-national identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-805
JournalJournal of Sociology
Volume52
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jul 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

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