S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Dept. of International Studies (국제학과) 국제지역연구 국제지역연구 vol.12 (2003)
호주 휘지계 인도인의 종족 정체성 구성
The Construction of Ethnic Identity among Indo-Fijians in Australia
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 국제대학원
- 국제지역연구, Vol.12 No.2, pp. 47-65
- 휘지계 인도인; 종족 정체성; 다중적 이주자; 이주; 종족 동일시; Indo-Fijian; Ethnic Identity; Multiple Migrant; Ethnic Identification
- This study aims at exploring the processes of ethnic identity construction among Indo-Fijians in Australia. If we understand the notion of ethnicity as mutable or changeable, then one"s ethnic identity is a composite of the view one has of oneself and the views held by others about one"s ethnic identity.
The Indo-Fijians in Australia are "twice migrants" who relocated a second time from Fiji primarily due to the military coup in 1987 led by the Fiji native military. The ancestors of the Indo-fijians had came to Fiji as "indentured labourers" from 1879 to 1916. This type of migration can be contrasted with those Indians who migrated directly from India to Australia: Indo- Fijians had lived much longer overseas, their regional origins in the Indian Continental were different and they had some distinct experiences as overseas settlers. As a result of their severance, they felt they had no connection with the networks on the subcontinent.
In general, white Australians, who fail to recognize of the Indo-Fijians" distinctive accents, style and mannerisms, tend to lump them into the generalized category of " Indians" or "South Asians." Meanwhile those Indian settlers who have come to Australia directly tend to perceive Indo-Fijians as "semi-Indians" or "inferior." Though physically similar to themselves, they often talk, dress and act in uncustomary ways. While Indo-Fijians are regularly identified as "South Asians" by most whites. they are also socially and culturally marginalized by most other South Asians, especially direct Indian migrants.
It is incorrect to state that Indo-Fijian Identity is based only on the cultural content (dress, language, etc) and physical features of the Indo-Fijians. Although it is possible to differentiate Indo- Fijians from direct Indian migrants through the difference in language usage, dress, culinary habits, social organization etc, the ethnic identity should not be seen as given or long-established. The ethnic identity of Indo-Fijians is the result of a dialectical process involving internal and external opinions and processes, as well as Indo-Fijians" self-identification and outsiders" (White and direct Indian migrants) designations. When Indo-Fijians (perceived as a minority group in Australia) encounter opposition from the direct Indian migrant group (the majority group in terms of number of persons, educational careers, wealth etc), they may tum to their own ethnic history/history of indenture) and culture and intensify their attachments to these factual and symbolic phenomena. But this history and culture are not "primodial" but rather are themselves constructions.
It is very important to find specific devices and mechanisms of cultural reproduction, including ethnic identity. We must examine the actual practices that Indo-Fijians have developed to preserve and transmit its culture. Indo-Fijians have taken advantage of social networks and cultural institutions already established in Fiji to preserve their identity. One of the actual practices among Indo-Fijians in Australia is Ramayan Mandli(Ramayana Association), which is based on residence. Organizations such as Ramayan Mandli will foster and preserve a unique sense of Indo-Fijian identity.