Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australian Literature

Hourigan, Daniel ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8650-4717 (2020) Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australian Literature. In: The Routledge Companion to Australian Literature. Routledge Companions. Taylor & Francis (Routledge), New York, pp. 254-261. ISBN 9780367643560


Abstract

Australian literatures that develop asylum seeker and refugee characters and narratives are numerous, rich, and complex. 1 However, there are far too many volumes that target multiple audiences, ranging from children to young adult and adult, to say something generic or essentialist from within the illusory construction of a ‘refugee literature’ itself. 2 In light of this plurality, it is far more useful to look to literary criticism to understand how literatures that develop refugee narratives are positioned, overdetermined, and coopted by the current culture and politics of exceptionalism that condition the imagining of the refugee in Australian society. The predominant trend in the critical reception of refugee and migrant characters from Australian literature is to understand them as figures of a psychic complex of political anxieties about the arbitrations of sovereignty, nationalism, colonial histories, and the possibilities of jurisdictional power. Refugee figures pepper Australian literature in often-traumatic narratives, as Tony Simoes da Silva has noted: ‘In Australia, as elsewhere, refugees increasingly crudely signify as catalysts to emotional, at times irrational responses, whether empathy or suspicion, pity or contempt, paranoia or mass hysteria’ (68). This chapter will offer a ‘law and literature’ perspective on the literary and critical responses to the idea of the refugee as an exceptional figure for Australian literature.


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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 13 May 2021 02:58
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 01:32
Uncontrolled Keywords: literary criticism, Australian literature, asylum seekers, refugees
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200502 Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature)
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470502 Australian literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature)
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003124160-33
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/41962

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