chapter  5
17 Pages

‘Just Asian’? Inscribing East Asian ‘Mixed Race’ in Australia


This chapter focuses on Asian migrant communities and diasporas, noting both their scripts of assimilation and the agentic preservation of their Asian roots. Within race and ethnicity studies, some research has focused on Asian-Australians, where a mixed race person has parents of Anglo-Saxon and Asian descent. In such cases, the mixed race person’s phenotype is likely to signify their ethnic diversity. Current studies of mixed race in Australia have focused on those whose distinctive phenotype clearly marks their mixed heritage (such as Black/White/Asian Australians) (see Perkins 2007), and those whose phenotypic ambivalence is a concern for making claims of authenticity, belonging, and practice (such as Aboriginal/White Australians) (see Kissane 2010, and Kowal, this volume). The mixed race persons presented in this chapter, however, are blended East Asians (i.e., Chinese of all nationalities, Japanese, and Korean), where the phenotypic closeness of both racial groups does not typically mark them as mixed race. Within the Australian context, these mixed race East Asians are one ‘type’ of ‘minorityminority’ mixed race person (Hall & Turner 2001: 81), where both parents belong to a minority racial group in the country. The visual ambiguity of these individuals may crucially impact their racial membership because ‘physical appearance is the primary cue for racial group membership .  .  . and remains the greatest factor in how mixed-race children are classified by others’ (Rockquemore & Laszloffy 2005: 114). As such, and as will be demonstrated in this chapter, mixed race East Asians often face greater difficulty in expressing their heritage to others.