Keynotes and Plenaries for AAI7

AASRN is happy to announce that the AAI 7 conference taking place at the Immigration Museum on 7th-8th November 2019 will include keynote speakers Dr Gilbert Caluya and Associate Professor Hsu-Ming Teo and plenary speakers Eugenia Flynn and Dr Shakira Hussein.


In the post-Hanson era (version 1.0), there is a growing assumption that anti-Asian racism in Australia has not only disappeared, but that “Asians” now occupy an elite class, colonising private schools, universities, properties and middle-class jobs. While this clearly follows discursive, narrative and rhetorical patterns of the US “model minority myth”, its Australian inflections are not particularly clear. Nevertheless, and drawing on my own experiences in progressive academic and activist spaces, this means that Asian-Australians increasingly tend to be excluded or side-lined in debates about race and racism in Australia, sometimes even voluntarily side-lining themselves. While the amplification of Indigenous, Muslim, black and refugee Australian voices should continue as a matter of principle, when pitted against “Asians” this has often functioned to deepen problematic assumptions.
This paper seeks to reposition Asian-Australian identities as central to debates about racism, Islamophobia, refugees and decolonisation as opposed to being peripheral to these debates, or even a “privileged” identity in relation to these debates, by decolonising Asian-Australian identity itself. Decolonising Asian-Australian identity requires resituating “Asia” in the context of colonisation as a world historical system in order to reconfigure Asian-Australia in the present. Such an approach would deconstruct any geographical, linguistic or cultural certitude grounding Asian-Australia in Asia in favour of a radical contextuality attentive to material histories of colonial and imperial violence. It would decentre the East Asian hegemony in both the Australian imagination of “Asia” and the Asian-Australian scholarship emerging from such an imagination. In doing so, we can extend the capacity for critical Asian-Australian scholarship and activism to face the growing global challenges of the 21st century, such as the so-called “refugee crisis”, the extended “War on Terror”, increasing securitisation, decolonising settler neocolonies and the resurgence of racist populist nationalisms.

Gilbert Caluya is a Lecturer in Cultural Studies in the Screen and Cultural Studies program of The University of Melbourne. He researches and teaches on the intersections of race, gender and sexuality in contemporary cultural formations. Specifically, his research focuses on racial politics of intimacy across several cultural sites: sexual subcultures, cultural citizenship, everyday cultures of security and digital cultures. He was previously awarded a DECRA Fellowship from the Australian Research Council to research intimate citizenship in postcolonial Australia and has recently been awarded an ARC Discovery Project to research digital citizenship and diasporic youth. He graduated with a PhD from the Gender and Cultural Studies Department at the University of Sydney in 2009 and was awarded the University Medal and the Gay and Lesbian Archives Thesis Prize. He is currently completing a book manuscript on intimate security as a structure of feeling for the extended War on Terror and another book on everyday racism in digital cultures.


Usually archives. documents or records relating to the activities, business dealings, etc., of a person, family, corporation, association, community, or nation.
archives, a place where public records or other historical documents are kept.

verb (used with object), ar·chived, ar·chiv·ing.
to place or store in an archive
Digital Technology. to compress (computer files) and store them in a single file.

What does it mean to archive an Asian Australian identity? Am I that identity, the object of the archive, the object to be archived? Or am I the noun, the archive where something called “identity”, and another related entity called “Asian Australian”, are deposited? I am ageing and I certainly feel historical; I’m not sure whether my writings and my life experience are still relevant to other Asian Australians today, or whether they should be quietly filed away in the archives, where other musty historical documents are kept. I need to make way, make room, for the present! If I file my life away, which life, which “me”, which “identity” do I store? Did these ever exist as something tangible in the first place? Or is being/having/doing an “Asian Australian identity” a process and a performance that, unrecorded, dissolves into diminishing echoes, a spasm and phantasm of phosphenes that, briefly, make patterns of starbursts when I close my eyes? And is it possible to be Asian Australian—or any other type of marginalised intersectional identity—without a perpetual stake of racism driving through my heart, through the heart of this fantasy called the Australian nation?
In this performance presentation, Dr Teo the academic, Hsu-Ming Teo the novelist and Ming the friend and family member discuss, argue over and interrogate each other about whether they ever achieved Asian Australianness through their writings—creative and academic—and lived experiences, before compressing these critical and querulous conversations into a single historical file to be put away.

Hsu-Ming Teo is an Associate Professor, novelist and cultural historian based in the Department of English at Macquarie University, Australia, where she teaches literature and creative writing. Her first novel, Love and Vertigo (2000), won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award and was shortlisted for several other awards. Her second novel, Behind the Moon (2005), was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. She is working on her third novel. Her academic publications include Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels (2012), the edited books The Popular Culture of Romantic Love in
Australia (ASP 2017) and Cultural History in Australia (UNSW 2003), as well as a wide range of articles on Orientalism, imperialism, fiction, popular culture, love and popular romance studies. She is currently co-editing the Ashgate/Routledge Research Companion to Popular Romance Fiction and a volume on Conflict, Colonialism and Exoticism in Twentieth-Century Historical Romance Novels, and she is also working on a project on East-Asian themed romance novels.
Hsu-Ming is an associate editor of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies and an editorial board member of the Journal of Australian Studies. Judging activities: Hsu-Ming served on the advisory panel of the Man Asian Literary Prize from 2007 to 2012 and judged the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize. She judged the NSW Premier’s Literary Award in 2007, and the NSW Premier’s History Prize in 2013 and 2017. She has also served on the peer review panels of ArtsNSW and the Australian Council for the Arts.


While racist tropes about Muslims are a long-standing element of Orientalism, they have not remained stable over time. Analysts such as Tariq Modood and Scott Poynting have mapped the shift from racial to religious identity for Muslims living in the United Kingdom and Australia respectively. Globally, the attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 are generally perceived as the watershed moment in this process of racialisation. In Australia, the 2005 Cronulla riots are regarded as marking a similar turning-point. This paper discusses the shifts in Islamophobia that have taken place between the assaults and harassment that occurred in the immediate aftermath of September 11 2001, and the far-right violence manifested in the 2019 attack by an Australian terrorist on the al Noor masjid and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. I argue that besides having become much more widespread and violent, Islamophobia in Australia and elsewhere around the globe has shifted away from “cultural racism” based on (real or imagined) religious beliefs and practices and towards “old” racism’s biological focus on abhorrent Oriental bodies.

Shakira Hussein is a writer and researcher based at The University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute who has published both academic and non-academic articles on topics including gender violence, racism, and disability. The updated edition of her book From Victims to Suspects: Muslim Women Since 9/11 has just been published by Yale University Press. She is a regular contributor to Crikey and has published essays in The Griffith Review, Meanjin, and The Best Australian Essays.


“Food is a part of who we are. Aboriginal-Asian communities descended from multiple generations of blackfella women and men who built relationships and families with Asian people from a variety of different countries. Malaysia, China, the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. Larrakia, Yawuru, Waiben: Darwin, Broome, Thursday Island.”

A Culinary Intersection Between Aboriginal and Asian Cultures,
Eugenia Flynn

Indigenous people’s relations with “Asian” visitors pre-date the colonisation of Australia. Post-invasion, Indigenous-Asian relations not only continued, they flourished into families and communities of Indigenous-Asian peoples, creating cultures and identities that continue to today. However, government policy and prevailing ideas of race heavily impacted on conceptions of Asian identity for many Indigenous-Asian people. In particular, the White Australia policy, the practices and ideas of miscegenation underpinning the Stolen Generation, and the ongoing attacks on Indigenous identity have all impacted the Indigenous experience of Asian identity.
Using family and personal story—a Filipino-Aboriginal grandfather, a Chinese-Aboriginal grandmother, a Chinese-Malaysian mother—experiences of Indigenous-Asian relations are examined to uncover the long history of Asian contact with the continent now called Australia. Racialized as Black, Indigenous experiences of Asian identity are explored through personal reflection, including: Indigenous understandings of culture and identity, Indigenous-Asian culture, Indigenous-Asian identity, and Indigenous experiences of Asian identity.
Eugenia Flynn is a writer, arts worker and community organiser. Eugenia’s thoughts on the politics of race, identity, gender and arts and culture have been published widely, including on her blog, Black Thoughts Live Here.
With over ten years’ experience in community arts and cultural development, Eugenia has worked with Kurruru Youth Performing Arts, the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development and The Social Studio. Most recently, Eugenia has worked with RISE Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, Blak Dot Gallery, Eleven Collective, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Ilbijerri Theatre Company and Peril Magazine.

Eugenia identifies as Aboriginal (Tiwi and Larrakia), Chinese Malaysian and Muslim, working within her multiple communities to create change through literature, art, politics and community development. Eugenia is currently undertaking her PhD at the Queensland University of Technology.