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,