Hyphened Identities: Representations of Race, Gender, and Diaspora in Contemporary Australian Teenage Literature

By Lana Zannettino.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper undertakes a comparative analysis of three Australian teenage novels - Melina Marchetta’s ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ (1992), Randa Abdel-Fattah’s ‘Does my Head Look Big in This?’ (2005), and Morris Gleitzman's 'Girl Underground' (2004). Drawing from feminist post-structural and post-colonial theories, the paper examines how each author has constructed the racialised-gendered identities of their female protagonists, including the ways in which they struggle to develop an identity in-between minority and dominant cultures. Also considered is how the authors inter-weave race, gender and class to produce subjects that are positioned differently across minority and dominant cultures. The similarities in how the authors have inscribed race and ethnicity on the subjectivities of their female protagonists, despite the novels being written at different points in time and focusing on different racial and ethnic identities, suggest that what it means to be a raced subject in Australia has more to do with the significance of all-at-once ‘belonging’ and ‘not belonging’ to the dominant culture, of 'inclusion' and 'exclusion' and of 'sameness' and 'otherness', than it has with the unique characteristics of biological race and ethnic identification. The paper argues that this kind of fiction carries with it an implicit pedagogy about race relations in Australia, which has the potential to subvert oppressive binary dualisms of race and gender by demonstrating possibilities for the development of hybrid cultural identities and 'collaborations of humanity'. In addition, this form of fiction can assist young women readers to resolve the psychical struggles associated with being a diasporic subject in Australian society.

Keywords: Teenage Literature, Gender, Race, Diaspora, Young Women, Identities

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.47-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 549.875KB).

Dr. Lana Zannettino

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, University of South Australia, Magill, South Australia, Australia

Lana is a research fellow in the Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies at the University of South Australia. Before joining the Hawke in May 2006, she worked for four years as a researcher and lecturer in the Gendered Violence Research Unit located in the School of Social Work and Social Policy. Lana's PhD research examined the discursive and emotional development of subjective gender and identity through an analysis of the relationship between particular literary and filmic texts and adolescent girls’ imaginary constructions of their mature adult selves. Her research interests include gender and identity, teenage literature and popular culture, gendered violence and the sociology of survivorship, and feminist theory and research methodologies.


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