Coalitions of justice: articulating democratic transition in Australia's Salvadoran community

Mason, Robert (2012) Coalitions of justice: articulating democratic transition in Australia's Salvadoran community. In: Cultures in refuge: seeking sanctuary in modern Australia. Studies in Migration and Diaspora. Ashgate Publishing, Farnham, United Kingdom, pp. 95-112. ISBN 978-140943475-7


In March 2009, Mauricio Funes was elected President of El Salvador, securing over 50 per cent of the vote in the first round. His victory marked the first time a member of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) had won the presidential election since the end of the country's vicious civil war in 1992. The win encapsulated a new sense of hope and expectation of change, both within the impoverished El Salvador and throughout the country's global emigrant population. Significantly, the campaign had been followed with intense interest by
Salvadorans in Australia. On the night of Funes' election, Salvadoran Australians in Brisbane gathered together in the city's Electrical Trades Union building to watch the election results live. Tears of disbelief and joy marked the moment and celebrations lasted into the night and beyond.
This chapter is predicated on the enduring emotional bonds that bound the celebrating emigrants to their former homes, as well as the bonds' impact on the more immediate Australian locales. It investigates the continued sense of solidarity that underpinned this engagement and its changing expression over three decades. The chapter argues that the sanctuary Australia offered to these refugees in the 1980s should not obscure the emigrants' continued engagement in their former homes. Physical sanctuary in Australia did not provide a deep sense of ontological
security while the refugees remained conscious of ongoing historical injustice and violence in their former homes. Their continued engagement with the cultural and political landscape of their remembered homes had a powerful impact on their Australian settlement and civic engagement. Both first- and second-generation Salvadorans found themselves drawn to transnational expressions of justice as a means to navigate the collective trauma they had endured as a consequence of the country's civil war.
This case study focuses on the intersectional interests that migrants cultivated in their first decade of settlement, before considering the implications of these
early contacts to the migrants' continued engagement with recent events in their former homes. The chapter deliberately focuses on those Salvadorans who have
maintained a degree of political engagement and does not purport to articulate the experiences of all Australian Salvadorans. It is focused on the low-density Salvadoran population in Brisbane and is based on analysis of archival and digital material, amplified by semi-structured interviews with key community members.
Its conclusions point to alternative ways to understand democratic transition and collective cultural traumas in the multicultural context.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published Version cannot be made available, due to publisher's copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Apr 2011 - 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Apr 2011 - 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2013 03:15
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2016 03:26
Uncontrolled Keywords: migration; Australia; multiculturalism
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1603 Demography > 160303 Migration
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160609 Political Theory and Political Philosophy
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4403 Demography > 440303 Migration
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430302 Australian history
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440811 Political theory and political philosophy
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 94 Law, Politics and Community Services > 9402 Government and Politics > 940201 Civics and Citizenship

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