Australian Culture Between West and East

In 2011, for the first time in its history, Australia welcomed more migrants from China than from Britain  It has taken an important step, albeit essentially symbolic, towards what could be called a greater “Asianization” of the country. It is an evolution to which Australia (or at least its Anglo-Saxon population) has desperately resisted during its history, and to which some still do not resign themselves. Indeed, Australia has traditionally considered a “white” nation and more particularly British. The demographics were right, but it did not care about the first inhabitants of the country, the Aborigines, as well as geographical realities.

Australia does not belong to any continental group, such as Europe, Asia or Africa, but is a continent in its own right. Located on the borders of the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, a remnant of ancient Gondwana, it has its own personality. However, it is indisputably closer to Asia than to Europe, so that there is a discordance between its modern history, which is an appendix of European history, and its geography. If the phrase “the tyranny of distance”, inspired by the title of the book published by historian Geoffrey Blainey in 1966   has flourished to describe one of the essential elements of the Australian condition, it is because the country is most of the time considered from the angle of its links with Great Britain: the distance is what annoys the proximity cultural, often taken as natural, of the two countries. On the other hand, vis-à-visAsia or Melanesia, there is no distance, at least in terms of geography: the city of Darwin is only 400 kilometers from East Timor, and the coast of Papua New Guinea -Guinea are much closer to Australian coasts.

But geography does not necessarily get along well with history. To be precise, it would be necessary to speak about them of double discordance: discordance, first of all, between the European culture which was imposed following the colonization of the continent by the English in 1788 and the aboriginal culture which reigned there without sharing beforehand and which, as we shall see, continues to exert its influence; but also discordance between this European culture and the Asian cultures bordering Australia, where they made incursions more or less marked. The resulting tensions have been working on Australian culture for two centuries and have influenced its evolution despite the wishes of the majority Anglo-Saxon group. At the beginning of the 1980s, evoking the foreseeable evolution of Australian culture,xxi th century will be marked on that continent by crossing our Anglo-Saxon culture, as it has adapted, and an Asian culture, especially Chinese – like it or not our descendants . As this formulation suggests, such an evolution does not correspond to the wishes of the majority group, and will undoubtedly be against its will. It is true that the Anglo-Saxons must mourn an Australia reserved exclusively for whites. But Carroll’s own text illustrates another aspect of this racist fantasy: the occultation of the Aborigines, which he completely eliminates from his vision of the Australian culture to come. The appropriation of Australia by the Anglo-Saxon settlers necessarily involved the elimination of its first occupants, who were thought to be dying to disappear by the mere mechanisms of evolution, accompanied, if need be, by a little inch in the form of massacres, poisonings and other ill-treatment. But the Aborigines have survived, and have become the bad conscience of contemporary Australia. The culture of the latter is no longer conceivable without an aboriginal presence: whether it is painting, literature or music, it is the Aboriginal side that we find the strongest affirmations of identity.

There is also an ever-growing Asian demographic presence that now exceeds 8% of the total populationAustralia has established economic relationsever closer to Asia, which has become its main partner, both in terms of imports and exports. Australia’s trade with China now weighs more heavily than its trade with the United States. At the same time, the political links between the continent of Africa and its Asian neighbors have also been strengthened through various bilateral or multilateral agreements, so that Australia has indeed entered the Asian zone of attraction.

If we want to remember that for more than a century and a half the country has clung to its British identity and has repeatedly rejected the Asian influences as aborigines, we better measure the progress made.

The geography of any country remains relatively unchanging   but its society and consequently its culture are intended to evolve to meet new challenges. Cultural evolution often lags behind social evolution – so does Australia continue in some ways to celebrate a rural culture that still permeates the national imagination while it has essentially lost the historical importance it once had. The culture of a nation is not created of course ex nihilo, unrelated to the material context, but it is not a simple reflection of this context, which it transfigures by the imagination. If from an economic point of view Australia has turned towards the East, it remains from a cultural point of view in a liminal situation – on a threshold that marks the passage between one world and another, between the West and the East.

When we talk about business innovation in Australia, we see a lot of improvement from other countries. Lets have a look on this infographic for complete information.