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Issue Details: First known date: 2019... 2019 Precarity, Violence and the Intersection of Race, Class and Gender in Roanna Gonsalves’ The Permanent Resident
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We live in a mobile world characterised by the mass movement of people - both voluntary and involuntary—on an unprecedented scale. One billion people cross borders every year and international migrants account for 3 percent of the world’s population (Standing 90). This diversity is reflected in the Australian population where one in every four workers is a migrant (Standing 90). Roanna Gonsalves’ collection of stories The Permanent Resident (2016) focuses on the so-called ‘second wave’ of Indian immigration to Australia from the 1990s onwards and reflects the ways in which migration impacts one particular community in Australia, namely the Goan Catholic community.1 While one reviewer qualified her whole-hearted praise of Gonsalves’ book with the reservation that, in their focus on Goan Catholics, the stories were ‘limited to one tiny subset of the Indian community’ (Prakash n.p.), I suggest that this targeted focus allows Gonsalves to drill down into the racialised, gendered, class, religious and historical specificities of this community as it negotiates its position(s) within the post-settler white nation. If in this process Gonsalves critiques racialised power relations between the dominant culture and minoritised peoples within the white nation, her fiction also excavates power hierarchies and complicities within the diaporic Goan community. In turn, situating the Goan community as embodying one of the many histories of migration in Australia, this essay takes up literary theorist Jumana Bayeh’s call to theorise minoritised literatures in Australia through the concept of diaspora in order to counteract and challenge the operations of racism in the public sphere. Bayeh quotes Stuart Hall’s comment that ‘diaspora identities are those that are constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and difference’ (Bayeh 85) to argue that the concepts of diaspora and transnationalism can provide an antidote to racial essentialism (Bayeh 85). In their focus on ‘transformation and difference’, Gonsalves’ stories investigate the ways in which migrants remake themselves and develop many different forms of belonging (both to the post-settler Australian nation and to their countries and cultures of origin) as they insert themselves into Australian suburbia. The stories thereby challenge fixed and essentialist categories of race and whiteness in their exploration of the production and reproduction of diasporic identity and subjectivity. In its thematising of diaspora and transnationalism, The Permanent Resident contributes to and extends both the transnational history of Australian literature and the global field of diasporic South Asian literature.' (Introduction)

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Last amended 21 Jun 2019 12:41:28
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