Arabs in Australia: Local Concerns and Transnational Contexts
- Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies
- Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies
- Volume 4, Number 2, 2017
- Additional Information
EDITORIAL FOREWORD , \ k',"',ity, ,-\"",."ii" ""d "" 1101."""ry M,x'cj"k orI.'", I~'Pl,'''''''''''1 of"\'-"hi 1,'J~t','rw ,,,.'Ii (;"1""",,, ", the ~',;i\',)",dy onyol''Y. ,ih, hru hc,'d ,,,,archf;,ii,,,w,hip, '" Ih, l,'"i"'T,i'y of Tom!]t" (21JJ 4j, L'~i",'nity ofF,j'lJh",:~I, Ill)) .i), 'he L'",'vmity '1' C"!~'~k"'~,,,, (101 j), "",! Ii", Ld,(!~"", .\,~""'''~ U"i""T"ily ,in lkirul (2%7j. .II," i,' !h, ""ilm 'fThc Utcr,Hurc 01 [11(" L('"""(,,,, Dh")'or,,, Rorth Carol; I'I~ PI"", !1I14). 2 Mashriq & Mahjar4, no. 2 (2017) between them. If researchers of Middle East studies have long viewed the region as a "neatly delineated, territorial package," they can no longer ignore the relevance of diaspora research for a greater, deeper, and more complicated understanding ofthe Middle East.' As a result of this shift, various studies have been published which rellect the rapidly growing scholarly investment in Middle East migration research. These studies tend to be interdisciplinary, and draw 011 approaches from history, sociolof,'Y and anthropology, as well as literary and cultural studies. ,Vorks range from focused studies of particular diasporas, such as the Lebanese by scholars like Andrew Arsan, Dalia Abdelhady, and Syrine Hout, to more broadly conceived research that examines the history and aesthetics of 111igration across the region, by researchers like Anthony Gonnan and Sossie Kasbarian, Nouri Gana, and Layla Al Maleh" ,Vhile this research has enriched the tleld, its overall focus has not been evenly distributed. In the Anglophone sphere, much critical attention has been paid to Middle Eastern communities in ;-';orth America, and in particular Arab communities in the United States, leaving the experience of Arab migration in other geographical locations, particularly Australia, underrepresented, Even the broader studies mentioned above have not substantially ameliorated this oversight. Where research of Arab-Australians has prinLipally occurred is, ullsurprisingly, in Australian-based scholarship and in response to discrete local events, like the infamous gang-rape case in 2000 and the eronulla Riots in 200S, as well as the repercussions of more global events like September 11, 200!,' This scholarship sought principally to address the plight of Arabs in Australia, particularly ill a context of rising racism and Islamophobia against Arahs. The papers published in this speCial issue of ldashriq & Mahjar emerged from a conference held at the University of Sydney in March 2016 10 address, in part, how Arabs in Australia respond to racism. But what also elnerged fnnn the discussion was an attelnpt to move beyond defining Arab--AustraHans simply in relation to the dominant culture that otherizes them and positions them as marginal. The assembled articles here reveal instead the extent to which cultural practitioners - perforrnance artists, cornmunity activists, and writers - explore, enact, and narrate their experiences as Arab--Australians in their own voke and through their own craft-, Editorial Foreword 3 The articles selected in this special issue also include scholarly works that explore the history of Arabs in Australia and critically analyze literature produced by Arab-Australian authors. Several interrelated themes emerge from these contributions. They include: the interplay between cultural production and the political, where culture is deployed as a kind of political activism; t-lH:~ recognition that the history of Arabs in Australia is an unfolding one, intimately bound with personal experience and the excavation of Corgouen stories; and, not least, the impacL of global evenLs on our understanding of the Arab-Australian experience. Addressing these common themes, the following series of articles revisit the notion of "Arahs in Australia" from a perspective that docs not eschew the reality of racism. Rather, they explore how cultural production might be an effective tool to imagine an Arab-Australian subjectivity and a lived experience that fashions a space for itself both in response to and in spite of that reality. Anne ;'vlonsour's opening essay provides an early history of Arab migration to Australia, which stretches back to the latter decades of the 180()s through to the mid-1900s. During this period, as 1v1onsour's research shows, Australia actively pursued a migration and settlement program that openly favored white Europeans. Various historical policies, collectively referred to as "the Vvhite Australia policy...