16 Pages

Introduction: migrant cross-cultural encounters in Asia and the Pacific


The image on the cover of this book depicts a young female child, Xye Than Hue, being carried ashore by customs officer Frank Dalton. John England, the Northern Territory Administrator, and other Vietnamese refugees, who are out of focus, observe the moment with apparent delight. 1 While the image captures a specific encounter in Darwin, Australia, in November 1977, it also spans the past and the present, representing longer and broader processes in the lives of desperate migrants fleeing war-torn Vietnam and the complex regional and global politics that led to the moment that the photographer, Michael Jenson, has captured. 2 This is a moment of both certainty and ambiguity, because, although we can place the image against Australia’s historical encounters with Vietnam and with refugees, we know little about the participants or what really transpired in this encounter. Of most relevance to this volume is the fact that Jenson’s photograph captures a migrant cross-cultural encounter spanning Asia and the Pacific.