Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Diasporas

pp 1141-1149

Vietnamese in Australia

  • Mandy Thomas

Alternative Names

Vietnamese-Australians, Indochinese, boat people, Cong Dong Nguoi Viet (“Vietnamese community”).


Vietnamese-Australians live in Australia, a large island continent. The physical contrast between Vietnam and Australia is remarked upon by many Vietnamese in their migration stories. Whereas Vietnam is remembered as an interlinked sensual and social world, Australia is often viewed as a harsh, spacious, empty, dry continent.

Australia is located in a regional Asian context, but this location has always been culturally and politically problematic, as it historically attempted to define itself as a “white” European nation in the Southern Hemisphere (Ang, 2000 p. xiii; McNamara & Coughlan, 1997 p. 1). During the Gold Rush period in the late 1800s, when there was widespread opposition to Chinese labor, Australia implemented a “White Australia” policy, although there were historically a significant number of Australians of Asian background. This e ...

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