AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 1990... 1990 Advocating Multiculturalism: Migrants in Australian Children's Literature After 1972
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

This article is concerned with a major shift in Australian ideology and values that Stephens argues occurred during the 1970s. He argues that 'within a decade during the 1970s Australian political and educational institutions underwent a palpable shift towards an ideology of multiculturalism and Australian Children's Literature shifted with it' (180). By the mid-seventies multiculturalism in children's literature was advocated as 'a desirable social value and one to be inculcated in child readers' (180). Multiculturalism in children's fiction was conceived as 'acceptance of difference and heterogeneity' which was in accordance with the general principles expressed by the Australian Council on population and Ethnic Affairs (1982). Stephens critiques a number of contemporary novels that deal with issues of multiculturalism and identity formation: On Loan (Anne Brooksbank), The Boys from Bondi (Alan Collins), Moving Out (Helen Garner & Jennifer Giles), New Patches for Old (Christobel Mattingly), Deepwater (Judith O'Neill), The Other Side of the Family (Maureen Pople), The Seventh Pebble (Eleanor Spence), Five Times Dizzy and Dancing in the Anzac Deli (Nadia Wheatley). He makes three pertinent claims regarding representations of multicultural identity and/or community in Australia: that the representation of multiculturalism is questionable in these novels as most of the authors do not come from a non-Anglo background; that there is a general subordination of the themes of migration and culture to the theme of personal identity development (a common thematic concern of children's literature); while the novels 'pivot on aspects of difference' the narratives are generally focalized through members of the majority culture and 'hence the privilege of narrative subjectivity is rarely bestowed upon minority groups' (181). Stephens posits that within the genre of children's fiction, 'the absence of significant migrant voices...leads to a partial and hence false, representation of the Australian experience of migration and the development of multiculturalism' (181).

Affiliation Notes

  • This work is affiliated with the AustLit subset Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing because it discusses texts in the AACLAP collection.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 21 Jan 2013 08:57:59
180-188 Advocating Multiculturalism: Migrants in Australian Children's Literature After 1972small AustLit logo Children's Literature Association Quarterly
  • 1972-1990
    Powered by Trove