Thursday, December 01, 2005

The A.C.M.

Just catching up to this post from Ivy: Do southeast Asian-Australian writers write partly to challenge the Anglo-Celtic mainstream by bringing to life their personal renditions of their Australian identity?

(Question from a dumb American: What is this "Anglo-Celtic mainstream" of which you speak?)


Ivy said...

Good question. I'm not sure myself. It was a part of a series of questions I was given. I'm guessing Anglo-Celtic is equivalent to Anglo-Saxon, but perhaps I should write back and ask the questioner to clarify...

And you do yourself a disservice, being that you are light-years away from dumb.

Ivy said...

Okay, I asked the dude and he writes:

"anglo-celtic is similar to anglo-saxon. in other words, the largely white, english mainstream world the [sic] continues to dominate australian politics, culture and society in spite of oz's 'multiculturalism'..."

Hope that's clear now. :-)

Tim said...

Thanks, Ivy. I think it's the "Celtic" part that threw me--I suppose it must be a nod to the Irish heritage of many white Australians.

So is "mainstream" Australian culture understood to have a significant "Celtic" component to it, i.e. influenced by the culture of Ireland as opposed to a more narrowly "English" character?

I think in this regard of the way Canadians will speak of "English Canada," which is both a linguistic distinction (vs. "French Canada") and an ethnic one (as a stand-in for "white Canada," identified with the descendants of English settlers).

In the U.S. "Anglo-Saxon" has even a slightly different valence, I think; a few decades ago it would have been used to describe a particular group defined not just by descent but by class and religion and region (as in "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant"), but now the term "Anglo" has (largely following Texas usage, I guess) become a synonym for "white" in many parts of the country. I don't hear Americans, though, talking about the "Anglo-Saxon mainstream," perhaps since "whiteness" in the U.S. has long since ceased to be identified with British descent.

Ivy said...

To my mind, celticism alludes to and includes the countries of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I think Brittany, Cornwall, Galicia and the Isle of Man are also considered to be Celtic countries, but I don't know about their population numbers in Australia.

Australia's had several cultural waves wash up on its shores. From my rather potted understanding of it, there are the Dutch discoverers [Abel Tasman et al], then the British/Irish/Scottish/Welsh convicts, then the settlers [British/Irish/Scottish/Welsh, plus Chinese, I believe].

Here's some more history.

From the Australian Immigration fact sheet:

"The most ambitious part of Australia's migration program followed the end of World War II. Australia negotiated agreements with other governments and international organisations to help achieve high migration targets.

The agreements included:

* a system of free or assisted passages for United Kingdom residents
* an assisted passage scheme for the British Empire and United States ex-servicemen, later extended to ex-servicemen or resistance fighters from The Netherlands, Norway, France, Belgium and Denmark
* an agreement with the IRO to settle at least 12 000 displaced people a year from camps in Europe
* formal migration agreements, often involving the grant of assisted passage, with the United Kingdom, Malta, The Netherlands, Italy, West Germany, Turkey and Yugoslavia, and
* informal migration agreements with Austria, Greece, Spain, Belgium and other countries."

There are actually huge Italian and Greek populations in the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

I also take Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Celtic to mean 'white'.

Jill said...

Anglo-Celtic is a clumsy way of acknowledging the Irish, Scots and Welsh inheritance of many white Australians. It is also a clumsy use of the word Celtic. But I know of a few Celtic groups in Australia and they are as much Scots as they are Irish.

But it doesn't really tell the whole story. Many of the original Irish were poor and catholic (many of them convicts) and the Scots were not so poor and were protestant. Many exceptions to all this, of course. But the Protestant/Catholic divide was a significant factor in white Australian history, less evident from the 1970s but now that fundamentalist protestant cults are becoming popular again, it remains to be seen. The religious divide affected politics for a long time such that the Labor party, which tended to be working class catholic Irish also attracted a lot of the first wave south European/Middle East immigrants such as Italians or christian Lebanese.

Although it is clumsy, I am a prime example. My mother's folks were Scots and Irish and my father's primarily English (with a Cornish forebear somewhere there as well).