Language(s) and Nationality: Prime Markers of Diaspora Identities?
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This chapter seeks to demystify existing perceptions of people with an African background in Australia by addressing the following crucial questions: How have African identities evolved over time? What are the perceived identities of Africans in Australia? What do the different groups of African people call themselves? What do other (non-African) people call them? How do existing perceptions and stereotypes about African and other migrant identities influence approaches to service provision by government and non-government agencies? This chapter focuses on the problematic nature of categorizing or identifying people using monolithic and homogenizing taxonomies of language and nationality. It is argued that African migrants in Australia are often seen as a homogeneous group of people with very few, if any, differences between them. The popular perception of who Africans are appears to go like this: because they all look alike (by virtue of the colour of their skin), originate from the same continent (Africa) and are presumed to be speakers of shared ‘standard’ African languages, then their behaviours, their needs, their attitudes and the things they are capable (or not capable) of doing are the same.
KeywordsEthnic Identity Language Policy National Identity National Language Standard Language
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