Race,ethnicity, culture and Australia and its people
Race,ethnicity, culture and Australia and its people
Australiaand its People
WhenI first heard the topic of Australia and its people, I was notcertain of what to anticipate, but I was fascinated. Australia is aculturally interesting nation, and I have been keen on severalsituations going on with the aboriginal societies, their values, andland over the preceding few years. A very interesting thing that Ihave come to learn is that the aboriginals are the first indigenouspeople to have entered Australia before colonization, and theirmelodic, imaginative and mystical traditions are still existent up todate.
Allthis information opened up my eyes to this group who after theirarrival started developing a lifestyle of hunting, gathering andlasting artistic and spiritual traditions through stone technologies.It has also helped me understand why the aboriginals keep practicingtheir traditions to date. By the time they were coming to contactwith the Europeans, their population was not big, but they hadalready established their art which they cherished. At that time theBritish were using several of their territories as punitivecollection centers of offenders. Furthermore, they struggled with theBritish over land as they were in a gold rush which brought aboutsocial tensions.
However,Australia did not remain a nation of the aboriginals alone. The mostimpressing thing is that by 1901, a sense of national identitystarted being felt in the country. Surprisingly, I came to understandthat wars have significantly changed Australian sense of identity. Ihave learned that the diversity of people was triggered by World War1. They introduced the legend of ANZAC while the Second World Warbrought about a lot of civilization. After the Second World War, ahuge immigration of individuals from over 200 countries came in witha lot of diversity making Australian citizens grow progressively dueto Asia’s proximity. From that point, I have come to understand whythe lifestyle, diverse food and cultural activities of the emigrantshave continued to be absorbed into the mainstream culture ofAustralia.
However,it is worth noting that the country is also viewed as the largestisland in the continent. But it also has the least population andthough it is considered as one of the nation with a highconcentration within the city it has a low population density whencompared to the international standards. A striking feature of thenation is the large population of emigrants who came to settle in thecountry after the Second World War. Apparently, it is approximatedthat for every five individuals, one of them is either a second or afirst generation settler. The average amount of people in every househas also reduced from 3.31 million in 1971 to 2.64 million in 2001because of changes in social attitudes thereby leading to reducedfamily sizes. Apparently, an average family is made up of 1.76children an amount that is way below population replacement.
Allthe time I heard the word race, I knew it was talking about thephysical characteristics such as skin color, hair and eye color.However, my lessons in school have proven that race is one of themost confusing topics a person can talk. Even though I am inclined tobelieve that all people are equal, and there is nothing like race,other people have also made strong arguments about different raceswhich exist in the world. Nonetheless, various groups have theirdifferent arguments about race.
Icame to learn that there is no standard definition for a race. It isall about how it can be deliberated. In one instance, I learned thatrace is a classification that is used to group humans intopopulations. A population that is distinct from culture, geographicallocation, and religious affiliation. However, I realized that themost confusing part arises from the fact that very few people candetermine the racial appearance of an individual. The types of hairand the color of the skin all shade into one another making it hardfor a person define white race, Asian race, and black race. The mostimportant thing I came to find out is that classifying race shoulddepend on the reason for the classification. Before an individualwishes to propose how race needs to be classified, they have to firststate why they want to categorize people in that manner. In mostcases, people make wrong classifications. For instance, when peopleare scientifically described based on genomes then the world only hasone race. I found that genetically, all humans appear to have similarcharacteristics and therefore fall into the same race category.
Sometimespeople might differ from one another physically, but that should notbe used to say that someone can attribute all the variations thatexist in culture to the physical differences which people have. Ininstances of studying culture, the human race can be regarded asuniform in quality and therefore eliminated from studying. Whenviewed from a social angle, race implies the opportunities anindividual has, where he lives, how he gets treated and how he canaccess prestige and power.
Myknowledge about race has expanded, and worth noting is the fact thatrace was not there until the exploration and expansion of the Greekswhich started in 1500. At this time the Greeks viewed themselves asthe most civilized, but they did not attach any aesthetic andphysical appearance of the people. Instead, they granted the statusof civilization to the Nubians, and not the European barbarians whowere light in skin color. It is, therefore, clear that race is acontemporary world notion where according to the scientific view,race emerged in the modern world as an aspect of explanation andinquiry, and it became classified by skin color thereby reflectingthe intellectual achievement of a person. Despite all the argumentsabout race, it plays a very significant role in the society.
Despiteall the deliberations surrounding race, it plays a huge role inissues that relate to the law especially in law enforcement whereracial features are always used to identify criminals in a criminalprofiling process. In forensic anthropology, they use the cranialformation to assist in body identification of an individual so thatthey can determine his/her race.
Iknow ethnicity and race are two confusing terms, but race is not thesame as ethnic origin. The information I have about ethnicity is thatit refers to a category of individuals who identify with everyonebased on a common language, social, past national and culturalexperiences. Therefore, ethnicities have an inherited status with itsmembership tending to be defined based on ancestry, culturalheritage, language, mythologies, the dressing style and how theyappear physically. I have come to understand that most ethnic groupswhich are derived from the same lineage mostly speak a language thatis related and share a comparable gene pool. Based on these ethnicdifferences, it is, therefore, clear that individuals who appear torelate to one racial group may have very little in common. They mighthave different customs, worldviews, and religious views. Forinstance, there is no single Australian ethnicity, but there areseveral ethnic traditions, though white people might appear to belongto the same race.
Myresearch about ethnicity further led me to understand that Australiais diverse because over 75% of the people are recognized with anancestry that is not Australian. Almost 2% of the Australianpopulation comes from backgrounds that are indigenous, and about 43%have about one parent who hails from a foreign country while 30% arefrom other countries. From those who were born abroad, the majorcountries include China, New Zealand, and China while almost 8.5 ofthem are believed to be born from countries which are not Englishspeaking. Collectively, the people of Australia speak more than 200languages with non-English languages being spoken by 16% of theentire population while about 61,000 individuals talk an indigenouslanguage. Apart from English, some of the common languages which arespoken today are Italian, Chinese, Arabic and Greek. Various studiesalso point out that over 90% of individuals are predominantlyEuropeans who have white descent
Asa result, ethnicity and race is a confusing topic in Australia justlike the rest of the world. I, therefore, emphasize that race isneither fixed nor a biological description despite beliefs of severalracists who believe the contrary. Most of the time people are awareof their racial perceptions, but they always think about it whendescribing themselves to other people. In most societies, it hasresulted in racial discrimination making individuals unfairly treatedbecause of the perceived differences.
Aquestion was once posed to me by culture, and the only thing I couldsay is that it is a way of life. Well, that is correct, but cultureincorporates several other things. For instance, Australian culturecan be viewed from the exceptional perspective antiquity fashioned bythe diversity of its populace’s lifestyles. An interesting thingabout Australian cultural heritage is that its demographic make-up iscomprised of a diverse indigenous population, a past of Britishcolony and an extensive immigration from several diverse cultures.All these cultures have blended up in a melting pot, therefore,making them live in harmony.
Immigrantindividuals have largely populated the Australian nation and as aresult, their values are largely predisposed by several collectionsof persons which nowadays make up the Republic. Nonetheless, what aresome of the present cultures in Australia? First, there is theculture of informality, egalitarianism, and irreverent sense of humorwhich has been established as common themes. The major cities havewell-known cultural institutions like the Sydney Opera House and thenation also has several artists in the music.
Onething I have learned about culture is that despite being influencedby the contemporary western ways of life, traditional culturescontinue to survive. In Australia, the aboriginals continue topractice their beliefs through a system based on Dreamtime. It is asystem which refers to the time when the ancestral spiritsestablished culture, land, practices, and knowledge that define theidentity and the responsibilities of the community. However, it isimportant to admit that western cultures have great influence on themodern society and as a result, there has been constant scuffles andreconciliation between the non-indigenous and indigenous.
Australiaprides in using English as their national language though it ismonolingual and does not have formal language. Worth noting is thefact that Australia uses a variety of languages that are primarilydistinguished from the American, British and several other nationaldialects. Their English has unique pronunciations, accents,vocabulary, and idioms. They also have Mandarin, Italian, and Arabic,but almost all the immigrants speak English.
Iscomedy part of culture? In Australia, comedy is considered as asignificant part of their identity however, their sense of humor ismostly regarded as an irreverent, ironic and dry. The nation has seencynical satire having an enduring popularity with television series,the frontline targeting current affairs news and journalism. Fromthat point, I understood that culture encompasses everything whichmakes up the way of life of individuals. A part of their comedy, artslike painting dance and film have reached national recognition. Thecountry has three major architectural listings such as the Australianconvict sites, UNESCO world heritage, and the Sydney Opera House.There is also evidence of permanent structures which were constructedby the indigenous people before the British inhabitants came into thecountry. It is also full of religious architecture comprising oflarge Catholic and Anglican cathedrals in each major city withChristians in several towns.
Ionce heard someone referring to Australia as the lucky country, but Icould not understand. Later I found out that the country has beliefs,attitudes, and stereotypes, for instance, their phrase which isreferred to as a lucky country. The phrase is believed to have beencoined by an individual referred to as Donald Horne, and it refers tothe weather, history, and lifestyle of the Australian. I had neverknown about complacency in Australia, but the phrase lucky countrywas coined to critic the complacency of the nation during the 1960s.Australians also use the term mateships, and this refers to a loyalfraternity which is a code of conduct that is particularly usedbetween men. The significance of mateship is founded in the hardshipof subduing land and unlike other cultures where it is based on thecultivation of landscape. Australian settlers used it to help oneanother survive.
However,I came to find out that the existence of mateship culture hasseverely made the Australian society anti-hierarchical. In this case,Australians are supposed to act with humility and not see themselvesas people who are better their peers. Whenever there is disloyalty topeers, it is harshly condemned and referred to as being a narcissist.