chapter  5
25 Pages

Feeling like an international student

Racial grief, compassion and national sentimentality
ByMaria Elena Indelicato

Chapter 5 provides the figure of the emotionally suffering subject with a history of the ways in which international students’ affective experiences of social exclusion have been interpreted throughout the history of their presence in Australia. The first and second sections trace the emergence of this figure in the documents produced and circulated in the early 1950s and shed light on how it was deployed to conceal the racist nature of everyday encounters. The third section undertakes a close reading of the most comprehensive study conducted so far on international students’ experience of living and studying in Australia: International Students’ Security. It illustrates how this study’s reiteration of the figure of the emotionally suffering subject abides by the national sentimental fantasy that full inclusion of international students in their host nations can be achieved by means of compassion – that is, without taking racism into account. The chapter concludes by arguing that it is because of upholding this fantasy that calls to compassion towards international students have given away to seemingly oppositional feelings of resentment.