Strategic Othering Through ‘African Australian’ As A Collective Identity: A View From African Background Young People In Melbourne
African migrants are one of the recent migrant cohorts to Australia who began arriving in the early 1980s. Today, Australia hosts one of the largest number of African migrant communities in the world. In 2006, there were about 248,700 persons of African descent in Australia; and this figure increased to about 300, 000 in the 2011 census. As minority groups, Africans struggle to adapt to the Australian society. Internally, Africans have huge array of ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups and members often organise themselves along these lines; however, externally Africans are collectively known as ‘African Australians’. This label displays a generalised image for all African descent people. The colloquial phrase can be interpreted in two ways: first as group identity that signals pan-African ethnicity; and second as Diasporic identity appealing to reconnect back to their motherland. Both applications seem to be positive. However, it remains unnoticed the ‘strategic othering’ effect engendered in such racialized or ethnicized identification. This paper discusses how the pan-ethnic identity perpetuates discourses of otherness as much as it creates Diasporic African identity. The study utilises qualitative inquiry among African background youth living in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, and home to the largest African migrant communities in Australia.
Key terms- African Australian, identity, Othering, pan-ethnicity