Media and the politics of belonging: Sudanese Australians, letters to the editor and the new integrationism

D Nolan, Alice Burgin, Karen Farquharson, Timothy Marjoribanks

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Nolan, Burgin, Farquharson and Marjoribanks focus on media as a significant site through which a politics of belonging is played out, focusing particularly on coverage of Sudanese Australians. To this end, they analyse letters to the editor that concern Sudanese Australians in three Victorian newspapers in 2007, a highly significant year in which this group became the focus of significant levels of (predominantly negative) media coverage. Through textual and thematic analysis, the authors demonstrate how such letters worked to reiterate and extend a politics of ‘integrationism’ that, without entirely departing from Australia’s commitment to multiculturalism, has rearticulated the latter along neoassimilationist lines. In doing so, they show how, in many letters, Sudanese Australians are problematized for their failure or refusal to ‘integrate’ in ways that involve an explicit or implicit process of racialization. In the process, the article also critically considers the important role performed by media in the politics of belonging, particularly through their reiteration and contestation of the politics of race and multiculturalism in Australia. Rather than simply a matter of reproducing a hegemonic politics, it shows how such processes, despite the marked limitations of their framing within a ‘race debate’, also serve to demonstrate significant fault lines in the politics of belonging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-275
Number of pages23
JournalPatterns of Prejudice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


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