Anthropological and linguistics articles from University of Western Australia

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Good Soil Preparation by Marcia Helene Hewitt

Good Soil by Marcia Helene Hewitt B. A . (Environmental Anthropology) UWA

In the same way that people & pets need vitamins and minerals, vegetables and fruit require good, well prepared soil. Good soil preparation ensures your garden has a good start and achieves maximum potential.

Soil preparation takes time, so start several weeks before planting. You can test your soil to see how much of the three vital nutrients are there: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. You can purchase a home soil testing kit from a garden shop. Your local suburb extension service can also test your soil for you.

Amend the soil’s pH based on the result of your test. If your pH is low, add LIME. If the pH is too high, add SULFER or peat moss. The next step is to
add lots of fresh organic material. You can add greensand or kelp meal if it is deficient in potassium.

Every soil needs new organic matter to break down. Add garden compost from your own bin or purchase it from a garden center. In addition you can add grass clippings, leaves or straw. These things add nutrients to the soil as they break down.

It’s good to loosen soil. Loosening it allows proper aeration. Till the soil down approx. 16 inches to properly loosen it. It is possible to rent motorised tillers from a garden center if the area you are working is too large for spade digging alone. You can get rid of weeds by spreading black weed paper or an old bed sheet over the area for a week before planting.

Vegetables like good drainage and a moderately fine texture. Steer clear of large trees as their roots will compete with the vegetables for space, nutrients and water.


Abawi, G.S. and Widmer, T.L. 2000. Impact of soil health management practices on soil borne pathogens, nematodes, and root disease of vegetable crops.
Applied Soil Ecology 15: 37-47

Albiach, R. Canet, R. Pomares, F. and Ingelmo, F. 2000. Microbial biomass content and enzymatic activities after application of organic amendments to a horticultural soil.
Bioresource Technology 75: 43-48.

Baur, A.J. 1934. Effect of composting on the chemical and biological change in peat.
Journal of American Social of Agronomy 820-830.

Brito-Alvarez, M.A. Gagne, S. and Antoun, H. 1995. Effect of compost on rhizosphere microflora of the tomato and on the incidence of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 61: 194-199

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Why Organic Food is Better by Marcia Helene Hewitt

Why Organic Food Is Better by Marcia Helene Hewitt
The Organic Principle: Many people are aware that food grown according to organic principles is free from exposure to harmful herbicides and pesticides, but that is only one small aspect of organic agriculture. A larger part of organic agriculture involves the health of the soil and the ecosystem. People interested in organic methods recognize that healthy, vibrant, and live soils and ecosystems significantly benefit crops. Natural, undisturbed soil is alive with micro biotic organisms that exist in harmony with the native plant life and the inorganic minerals that provide the soil's substrata.
Synthetic chemicals (such as herbicides, pesticides, and/or fast acting inorganic fertilizers) applied in or around crops interrupt or destroy the micro biotic activity in the soil. Once the micro biotic activity in the soil has stopped, the soil becomes merely an anchor for plant material. This conventional method of agriculture (in use for only the past 75 of 10,000 years of recorded agriculture) plants can receive only air, water, and sunlight from their environment -- everything else must be distributed to plants by farmers, often from inputs transported thousands of miles to reach the farm. Plants are commonly fed only the most basic elements of plant life and so are dependent on the farmer.

Food grown organically
Food grown organically means more support for local economies, but it can also mean higher prices. Conventionally grown foods cost less because their hidden costs are passed on to consumers and the environment. These hidden costs include creating synthetic inputs, the resulting pollution from spreading them, and long-term health effects of pesticide residues in our food.
In the long run, organically grown food is the best bargain for us, the environment, and future generations.
Maine Growers Association defines organic agriculture as "a locally sustainable, low-input technique for raising crops and livestock." For details on the legal definition of the word "organic," which is now regulated in the United States by the US Department of Agriculture, read the USDA National Organic Program standards and rules.
There are numerous organic certification policies. In Australia, Australian Certified Organic currently certifies about 55% of Australian organic produce. ( Garry Hannagan, NSW Farmer of the Year in 2004 & Australian Certified Operator says “the bud logo gives you the marketing edge---everywhere you need it.” To find out how you can ensure a straightforward, practical approach to your organic certification click here.
Marcia Helene Hewitt
BA (Anthropology) UWA


Hannagan, Garry. NSW Farmer of the Year 2004

Coleman, Eliot. 1995. The New Organic. Chelsea Green. Conn.

Australian Certified Organic.

Maine Growers Association


Monday, December 10, 2007

Bundu Dusun by Saskia Marina Hewitt Linguistics 3312

Linguistics 3312 Assignment 1

Bundu Dusun

Bundu Dusun is a minority language spoken by the Bundu Dusun people group in Sabah, East Malaysia.1 Bundu Dusun is one of a number of dialects of the Kadazandusun language, which is Austronesian.
The full classification for Bundu Dusun is: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Northwest, Sabahan, Dusunic, Dusun, Central.2
There are 70,000 speakers of Bundu Dusun,3 which is spoken along the west coast of Sabah4 (See map).

The primary religion of the Bundu Dusun people group is Christian, at about 70% of the population.1

Although there has been some work done on the Dusunic language group (Appel, for example, and the sources he mentions - see reference 4), Bundu Dusun itself does not appear to have been the subject of special study by many, although Shelley Harrison does mention it in his draft paper on Dusunic languages.5

An orthography for Kadazandusun has been established and was standardised in 1985, and an existing grammar and dictionary was updated to a trilingual Dusun-Malay-English dictionary.6 There are also a few other resources to be found on the web, such as a Kadazandusun travel phrase book and a teach-yourself-Kadazan book. However no such resources can be found for Bundu Dusun specifically.

Among the people who speak the Kadazandusun language there has been a fair amount of conflict in terms of identity, surfacing in the issue of the people group/language name. Should they be called the Dusun or the Kadazan? This issue was brought to a head when a standardised form of the language was going to be taught in schools, and the various people in the committee could not agree on a name for the language to be taught, much less how to standardise the language and orthography. This was resolved by the melding of the two names together, however the people speaking and learning this language still call themselves a variety of names, including Kadazan, Dusun, and Kadazandusun. The language currently being taught in Sabah schools is a standardised version of the language so the Bundu Dusun dialect is subsumed under this although it is not itself taught.6

Tension between the various peoples speaking this language as they have responded to pressures to standardise, and as they have struggled to keep their languages alive, has been a major issue in the recent history of these peoples.6 The continuing effect of this, plus the teaching in schools of a standardised dialect, and the presence of two dominant languages - Malay and English - has no doubt changed the Bundu Dusun dialect and the spheres in which it is used.

1. Joshua Project’s Bundu Dusun page at:

2. Ethnologue report on Central Dusun at:

3. Ethnologue report on Malayan languages at:

4. Appel, G., 2004. “The Dusun Languages of Northern Borneo”

5. Shelley’s draft paper at:

6. Lasimbang and Kinajil. “Changing the Language Ecology of Kadazandusun: The Role of the Kadazandusun Language Foundation” at:

Also: Lasimbang and Kinajil. “Building Terminology in the Kadazandusun
Language” at:

Bilingual Education in Aboriginal communities by Saskia Marina Hewitt

Linguistics 3307 Major Essay

This essay will discuss some of the issues which arise in bilingual education in the Aboriginal Australian context, when decisions are being made as to what exactly the education program should look like. I will go briefly over some of the goals of bilingual education. Then, with these goals in mind, I will discuss some of the major issues which have come up for people designing and implementing bilingual education programs. What have actual education programs tended to look like in regard to some of these issues? Why is this?
Much of the literature and examples I will use come from the Northern Territory - bilingual programs in other states are not as old or as well documented.

Definition and Aims of Bilingual Education
Bilingual education is a system of schooling where two languages are used to teach the curriculum content. In the context of this essay, one of the languages is English, and the other is an Aboriginal language, where that Aboriginal language is the mother tongue of at least some of the students in the school. A bilingual program typically also provides education about the history and culture associated with the Aboriginal language (Watts, McGrath and Tandy, 1975:7).
This is a very broad definition to which most of the bilingual education systems in Australia adhere. However there is also the possibility in Australia of language revival programs, where an Aboriginal language that is no longer the first language of the children in the community is taught as part of the curriculum (Parliament of the Commonwealth, 1976:1). This scenario will be discussed briefly where appropriate throughout the essay. The focus, however, will be upon bilingual programs of the basic type given above.

John Mills (1992) gives four different types of bilingual education systems (p9). Each of these has its own aims. Australian programs encompass two of these four types (p42-3).
Most programs are what Mills terms partial. These aim for "language maintenance with some maintenance, and even development, of culture." The aim of the school which has instituted the program is for the children to become fluent and literate in English and their native language. The majority of bilingual programs in Australia fall into this type.
Some programs, however, use a language for which an orthography has not yet been developed (usually because it has not been analysed by linguists). In these cases the program is what Mills calls mono-literate. In these programs, the aim is language maintenance, but a shift to English as the child's main language of communication. Rhyddwen (1996:21) points out that although there are no official bilingual programs of this latter type (at least in the NT), any school which employs an Aboriginal teaching assistant is essentially operating a bilingual (just not biliterate) education program.

The reasons why a bilingual program is instituted will have a big impact on the decisions made about specific aspects of the program. Various aims have been put forward for bilingual education in general, but for Australian schools implementing a program in a traditional language, the most important aims are the ones of the government and of the local Aboriginal community.
The chief aims of the government in supporting and instituting bilingual education programs are as follows:
1 To foster confidence and pride in the child's Aboriginality; and
2 To develop literacy skills in English such that the child is well equipped to live in Australian society when s/he leaves school.
(McKay, 1996:113-14)
And also:
3. To allow Aboriginal people to have greater control over their own education; and
4. To maintain the language and culture of Aboriginal communities.
(Rhyddwen 1996:25)

In the past aim number one was seen as more important, but in recent years the second aim of developing literacy has eclipsed the first (ibid. p21)

The Aboriginal community also has its own aims for supporting bilingual programs. The Aboriginal Consultative Group (1975:5-6) gives some objectives for Aboriginal education in general. These can be summarised as follows:
1 That Aboriginal children be brought up as fully functional members of their own culture and of the wider Australian culture;
2 That Aboriginal language, identity and values be "actively developed" in the education system; and
3 That Aboriginal children be given the highest quality education possible, to allow the same levels of choice and achievement available to any other Australian person.

So how do these aims affect how a bilingual program will look in real life? Here are some major issues involved in the running of a bilingual program and the ways which they have been or may appropriately be tackled.

What language should be taught?
Which language should be the second language in a bilingual education program? In areas where there is one language that has been well documented, the choice is clear. But what if the language has not been well documented and there are no resources with which to teach it? Should the program be entirely oral? Or should there be a literacy program based on another, nearby Aboriginal language?
It essentially depends on what you are trying to do. Recall that the main aim in governmental policy is that English literacy be developed. In this case, it wouldn't particularly matter if the children could not learn literacy in their own language, as long as they were being taught orally throughout their school years. Indeed, trying to teach a second Aboriginal language, though not as difficult as teaching English, would take up curriculum time (unless the children were already fluent in both traditional languages) and would therefore be undesirable.
But on the other hand, because of the similarity of Aboriginal languages in the same area, literacy in a non-native language may still be of use (Watts, McGrath and Tandy, 1975:15). Particularly, if the Aboriginal community believes that some literacy in a traditional language will foster a greater sense of pride in Aboriginal culture, then this may be an option.
Certainly, there would need to be consultation with the community to make sure that the language that was chosen was approved by the community (ibid.)
Or what if there are many languages spoken in the same area? Which of these should be taught? Again, this would come down to consultation with the community to decide which was the most appropriate. The dominant language would be an obvious option. The other obvious option would be the language having an orthography and written material already available. These two options may or may not coincide.
Watts, McGrath and Tandy, cited above, also mention that in some cases, such as where there are two languages spoken by a sizeable number of students in the community, the school may have to consider developing a program in more than one Aboriginal language. In more recent years, there have been a couple of schools which have taken this option in the Northern Territory, for example in Elcho Island where 15 clan languages are taught (McKay, 1996:118).

In the case of a revival program, it seems almost impossible to think that an Aboriginal community would want to revive a different language from their traditional one. So it would seem that the only choice in that case would be to either develop an orthography and written material, or teach the language entirely orally (a feat).

Finding and training teachers and other staff.
Clearly, parts of the curriculum which are taught in a traditional language should be taught by a person who speaks that language fluently, and preferably by an Aboriginal person in order to give more control of the system to the Aboriginal community (Aboriginal Consultative Group 1975:25). But where should these teachers come from and how much training should they have? Finding both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal teachers is a common problem facing bilingual schools, and is not just a problem to begin with, but is ongoing due to the typically high staff turnover in remote Aboriginal schools (House of Representatives Committee 1985:110-11). The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia (1976) reports on a number of bilingual programs that had been running at the time, about half of which reported either a lack of teachers, or a lack of competency and preparedness in their teachers.
To combat this problem, the School of Australian Linguistics was founded in 1974 (ibid. p5) for the purpose of training Aboriginal people in linguistics and literacy work. Teacher and teacher assistant training for Aboriginals is available from Batchelor College (McKay, 1996:115). Training is available at various levels at Batchelor, and the first year of the course can also be brought into the local community so that people do not have to leave home to study (McGill 1980:3-31). Courses were also held in 1975 in such topics as teaching English as a second language and early childhood development. These were for anyone involved in bilingual education - both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal (Parliament of the Commonwealth 1976:6). Whether these kinds of courses have continued I am not sure but at the very least the two training institutions mentioned above are continuing to run, although the latter has since subsumed the former (Rhyddwen 1996:24).
The Summer Institute of Linguistics has also played a role in giving advice and training to teachers and teacher assistants. It runs an intensive summer course every year, which provides training at three levels. (McGill 1980:31). SIL has also been the source of many linguists working in an advisory capacity in schools (Watts, McGrath and Tandy, 1975:27).
However, training can only take you so far in situations like this - the willingness of teachers and people from the Aboriginal community to participate is paramount. So in order to overcome problems of availability particularly, but also competency, you need to get people on board by pushing the benefits of bilingual education.
Also, what if there are dialect groups in the region that, although speaking essentially the same language, see themselves as very distinct? Although it may not seem to make a difference to people from outside the community, there may be political issues to take into account when hiring and training teachers.

What percentage of the course should be taught in each language, and for how long?
The idea of a bilingual program is that some of the course is taught in English and some in a traditional language. But how much should be taught in the native tongue, for how long? This is strongly affected by the goals you have in mind when designing the program. In Australia the objectives of bilingual programs are balanced between maintaining the native Aboriginal language and culture of the children, and training them in oral and literate English in order to prepare them for life in wider society. Presumably which was more important to the Aboriginal community would be affected by the situation of the community and their attitudes. For example, an extremely remote Aboriginal community may not see the point of large amounts of teaching in English and so may want most of the course taught in the traditional language. On the other hand, the governmental goals, as we saw earlier, prioritise literacy in English in recognition that this is a vital survival skill in modern Australia.
Two main models are given by Watts, McGrath and Tandy (1975:11-12), and similarly by McGill (1980:17-18). Both models start off dominated by the traditional language, which is then increasingly replaced by English as the language of instruction until English is used for all but the study of Aboriginal language, art, and culture.
This makes sense in terms of making the student a fully functional member of wider Australian society but nevertheless seems to devalue the traditional language somewhat. However, if the language was being used by the students at home then school would be the only place for them to learn English and so it would make sense for the schooling process to be dominated by English.
It all depends on what the situation of the community is, and of course discussion with the community would need to take place before decisions were made.
The discussion of this issue brings us to the next topic.

What subjects should be taught in which language?
In more recent years the "domains debate" has arisen among people involved in bilingual education. The domain of a language in a bilingual society is the range of situations in which that language will be spoken (Rhyddwen 1996:23). This idea has been transferred into the design of bilingual programs in terms of what language should be used to teach which subjects. Stephen Harris, quoted in Rhyddwen (cited above), says that organising the curriculum content into domains would prevent teachers "unwittingly imposing onto one culture a world view which is appropriate to another." So the idea is that the use of the Aboriginal language is restricted to instruction in topics related to Aboriginal life, art, culture and language. Conversely, the use of English is restricted to instruction in western subjects (science, maths, history, etc.).
There has been some debate about whether this is a good idea, but both sides are essentially aiming for language maintenance. The pro-domains side says that in order to survive, both languages must be used in separate domains, because if the domains of use were identical in both languages then the less dominant (traditional) language would simply stop being spoken. However, others point out that in Aboriginal society the use of different languages (or dialects) in the same domain is quite common. There is also the issue that since most of the curriculum comprises western material, the Aboriginal language will be highly restricted in its use, which is not conducive to its survival (McKay 1996:116). So in this case the difference in the two approaches is not so much a variance of goal but a variance in opinion as to how to achieve that goal: is language maintenance best achieved by dividing up the curriculum into domains, or by taking a more holistic approach?

As discussed above, both models given for Australian bilingual education feature a successive dropping out of the use of the Aboriginal language, so that by primary school the only subjects taught in it are those having to do with topics related to Aboriginal culture and the rest. So whether knowingly or not, it looks as though all formal bilingual programs in Australia have gone with the domains theory. Also balanced in with this is the other major goal of training Aboriginal students to have just as many choices and abilities to cope in Australian society. Part of this, surely, means making sure they have the ability to make themselves understood in all domains in the majority language. So this would pull the balance toward a greater amount of subjects being taught in English.
It seems to me that a good compromise might be to have some parts of the western curriculum still taught some of the time in language - depending on the wishes of the community and on the available resources.

Non-Aboriginal children in a bilingual school.
From the very beginning, in the initial report by Watts, McGrath and Tandy in 1975, the fact of children in majority Aboriginal schools whose first language is English was identified as a potential issue (p31). Obviously this would not be so much of a problem in higher school levels where the amount of Aboriginal language used is lower, and sometimes is only used in particular electives. But in lower school years quite a significant amount of the curriculum is taught using Aboriginal language. As the report by Watts et al. points out, it is important that children whose native language is English are not overlooked and are able to learn as effectively as the bilingual children. But it is also important that the two groups are able to interact for their mutual benefit.
The school would need to be organised in such a way as to accommodate everyone's needs and not disadvantage anyone. This would take a sensitive head teacher and would raise a need for extra teachers. Given that it is hard enough to find teachers as it is in remote schools, that may prove difficult, but it does not seem to have raised any larger issue than finding and keeping staff generally.

What materials to use and where to get them.
One last area I want to discuss is the production of materials in the Aboriginal language to use in teaching. This requires people to produce them and also facilities to print them. Some schools also run more than one bilingual program, and this means making doubles of all the resources (McKay 1996:118).
There are a number of different types of resources to produce, for example, basic materials such as word lists, primers, classroom materials such as charts and posters, illustrated story books and dictionaries. (McGill 1980:36-38). This necessitates the work of a number of people: linguists, Aboriginal story tellers, writers and illustrators, for example (House of Representatives Committee 1985:111). The making of materials can also be a teaching opportunity. Robert Hoogenraad (2002:12) relates that young and old Aboriginal people were enlisted to help produce picture dictionaries in the Western/Central Anmatyerr community in the Northern Territory. As a result, the literacy of the young people increased.
There are a number of institutions that employ people to develop materials and that have printing resources. There are about ten literature production centres in the Northern Territory (House of Representatives Committee 1985:111), and some schools have their own centres (McKay 1996:127). Additionally, institutions like the Summer Institute of Linguistics provide a lot of material. Many local community groups produce their own charts, games, picture books and other activity materials (Parliament of the Commonwealth 1976:11).
It is preferable if resources can be produced for a large area encompassing a number of schools; or at least templates for resources so that communities of different languages can have access to them (Hoogenraad, 2002:12). It is also important that the style of literature be close to the actual way people talk, especially at first when literacy is first being developed. This means being careful to follow actual discourse structure and idiomatic expressions used in the spoken language (McGill 1980:35-6).

This essay has discussed briefly some of the goals and aims of bilingual education in Australia. I then looked at some of the things which, historically and currently, have been issues when implementing a bilingual program. Many of the decisions made about these issues have depended on the priorities given to different goals for the program. In some cases, we have seen that different parties (for example the government and the Aboriginal community) may potentially disagree on what the bilingual program should look like. In these cases discussion must be entered into, and care must be taken not to take too much control away from the Aboriginal people.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'm an Australian Marcia Helene Hewitt

Anthropology 2219
Australian Society Facts and Fantasies.
Marcia Helene Hewitt
October 2007

“I’m an Australian but,
my mother/father is...., so I guess I’m......(Greek, Filipino, American).
Australian children with one migrant parent and one fifth generation Australian parent: a short study of eugenicist notions, multiculturalism and Australian Identity in the last 28 years.

“But where are you from REALLY?”

"Since each of us are multiple, we are already quite a crowd" - Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus.

Al Grasby was mostly correct when he stated that in 1973 the White Australia Policy was now “dead and buried” (Grasby, 1984.). However it appears that the ghost of racism has started haunting us once again. The ghost shows itself not only in eugenicist notions in Australian discourse but also in the issue of national identity, multiculturalism as public policy, and ethnic self descriptions of young Australians. I have interviewed 13 people in my own family system in order to gain some data on what people with one Australian parent and one migrant parent feel about their ethnic identity.

In this essay I will provide examples of racist abuse in Australia and make an attempt to analyse what is taking place between the years 1979- 2007 in Western Australia. I’ve chosen that time frame because that is the birth year of my first child. I will discuss racism & multiculturalism in an autoethnographic methodology using my own nuclear and extended family. I will also discuss how multiculturalism as a political debate has influenced the general community and impacted on the lives of people with one migrant parent.

National Identity and multiculturalism
The assumed National Identity in Australia of two Anglo Australian parents now excludes about 40 in a hundred people. (ABS 2007) 1 out of 4 people living in Australia is born outside of Australia. Since one quarter of the population is born outside of Australia it is clear that the multiculturalism debate as public policy is seriously flawed.
It is flawed mostly because of the inconsistencies with a national Australian identity.(Zevallos, 2003.) Multicultural policies have arisen in the first place because of perceived deficiencies in earlier assimilationist policies. The justification for having multicultural policies over those of assimilation is partly symbolic, providing public recognition of the inclusion of many culturally diverse groups within the Australian community. The large numbers of Australians who support multiculturalism would also appear to favour public support for tolerance, and to social policies that are perceived to be genuinely universalistic. If these policy goals are worth continuing, then multicultural policies are a publicly acceptable way of achieving them.

There is a problem with the misleading nature of the term ‘multiculturalism’ itself. Jerzy Zubrzycki, a strong advocate of multiculturalism for more than 20 years, refers to the term as a ‘clumsy, pompous polysyllabic noun.” (Zubrzycki 1996. ). It is relatively easy to grasp that Multiculturalism means many cultures” but far harder to discern what multiculturalism has to say about the relationship between such cultures. Does it mean cultural separatism and policies that magnify social division or does it mean inter-cultural tolerance within some set of general rights and obligations that apply to all groups? A second related weakness, identified by Zubrzycki, is that politicians of all parties have seen multicultural programs as a way of wooing the ethnic vote. This has helped to associate the policy with sectional advantage and social engineering. Anderson, W. 2002).

The interview that I have prepared for family members was designed to see whether their self-description was Australian or “Australian and...” Although all members of the family can claim 6th generation status with English, Scottish and Irish ancestry and were born within Australia and all speak English, some family members did not relate to the Anglo Celtic side of the family at all.

There are three groups of people who the questionnaire was sent out to. 1) The American-Australian Hewitts, all fair haired and blue eyed. 2) the Greek Australian Hewitts, fair haired when young but now dark haired. 3) The Filipino- Australian Hewitts, all very brown skinned and whose typology does not fit the Anglo Celtic archetype.

The interview I have used is included in a page at the end of this essay.

The interviews came back with varied answers but had one thing in common; the children of migrants even with an Australian parent and growing up in Australia often don’t feel like ‘Australians only’ but ‘Australians and something else’.

Eugenicist notions are not far from the surface either. In family gatherings the migrant parents are (jokingly) referred to as ‘herd improvers’ by the ‘core Anglo Celtic family.’
Some of the children from these family systems also report feeling like ‘outsiders’ in their own country or outsiders in their parents’ country eg the Philippines:

The interfamilial “jokes” (eg“herd improvers”) used for the parents born outside of Australia, and the term” hybrids” is reminiscent of the words of Karl Pearson, a scientist convinced that the state should intervene to encourage the breeding of the ‘fit’ and to limit the reproduction of the “unfit” during the 1920’s among middle class women. The birth rate at the time was falling in Britain and Australia and breeding good sized families was seen as an issue on which the entire future of the race depended. (Anderson, 2002.)

These same eugenicist notions can be seen in Howard’s views on national identity. The central role of the Anglo Celtic heritage in Australian identity, the most privileged form of whiteness, has been reinstated by him as a policy. Even Europeans take a secondary place in this national identity. (Johnson, C. 2007).

The following are statements from some of the interviewees. Other participants did not want to be named or included specifically, although I have included their data in a general sense.

Marco Hewitt is the winner of the Berndt Memorial Prize from the Anthropological Society of Western Australia in 2002; the Grace Vaughn Award for Human Rights Scholarship in 2007, and the Iain Brash Prize for article of the year in the journal “Limina in 2007. Marco’s self description is as follows:

Yobbotopia, Australia

I am a black jaguar, prowling through time and space in search of new constellations of experience; a cultural saboteur, troublemaker, and intellectual insurgent. I'm throwing poetry grenades into the encampments of established thought and order. My project is to foment counter-cultures, plant dream-seedlings, and cultivate individual and collective imaginations with a view to a more socially and environmentally just future. Always to the horizon!

Peter Hewitt:
I am an Australian. What is an Australian? It is someone who lives in Australia. Australia is a long way from a lot of places. Australians want to know more about other places. They want to see themselves as citizens of the world. They travel a lot, but they always come back. People also come to Australia from other countries, and become Australians. I am married to a former Californian. My brother is married to a former Filipina. My sister is married to a former Greek. Our children are all Australians, but the half-Filipino boys are a bit ambivalent about it. They have been on the receiving end of a lot of racism. My father used to be a racist. He thought the white race was the best. In fact, there were only white people around when I was a small boy. There were hardly even any aboriginal people. If we were driving along and saw a dark face, we children would stare, until our parents told us it was rude to stare. But when his grandsons were victims of racism, my father was outraged. Blood is thicker than water, he would say. The blood is pretty mixed up these days. My kids could be Israelis or Americans if they wanted to be. I wish Israel would become part of the European Union, then I could become a European, then I wouldn’t feel so bad about having been so slack about applying for British citizenship when you could still do it if at least one of your grandparents had been born in Britain, as my mother’s mother was. If I had been smart enough to take out British citizenship then, I could be a European now. Why do I want to be a European? It’s not that I want to be a European, it’s just that I want to be able to travel anywhere and stay as long as I like. That’s what Australians expect from the world. Everyone is an Australian, only they just don’t know it yet.

Marcia Hewitt: Well I was born and raised in Southern California. I used to think of myself as an American but have lived in Australia for 35 years. It is difficult for me to think of myself as “an Australian’ because to this day it is not clear to me what an “Australian” is. I mean I think of the Aboriginal people in my life as Australians so in that sense I could identify with Australians. But they aren’t considered ‘Australian ‘ either. Aboriginal people have to constantly state their Aboriginality and aren’t even in the debate as far as the definition of the word ‘Australian’. Since others are constantly identifying me as ‘other” (the American accent, what’s left of it) one never feels exactly like an Australian. But
I’m the parent of three Australian children...stereotypically looking blue eyed blondes. So that fact ties me to the cultural meme.

Saskia is a published author in The Weighing of the Heart and UWA Magazine.
She writes:


Saskia Hewitt: I always say I’m an Australian. Sometimes in conversation it comes up that I have an American mother, so I say that. I sometimes say that I have been back to the States and met my mother’s side of the family. Actually sometimes I fill out forms and say I’m an American Jew on one side of the family.(laughs) A few times I have mentioned that my parents were ‘hippies’.

Gabriel Hewitt. “ I just say I’m Australian but yeah, sometimes I mention that I have an American mother, like if someone else says, yeah, they have a father or mother from somewhere else then I tell them.”

Marco Hewitt: “In actual fact, we have grown up with very little Filipino culture, apart from the food my mum cooks. None of us have ever lived in the Philippines or speak the language. The emotional ties I have with the Philippines I have had to build from scratch...yet I am still as much an outsider in the Philippines as I am in Australia. As such, I have chosen the cultural identity of a ‘global citizen”.

Marco also writes:

”My memories of my school years [1986 - 1998], from Year 1 right through to Year 12, are filled with constant racial abuse. Many of my white friends fail to understand the extent of what non-white kids go through at school.

Let me start with my primary school in the North-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I remember being pushed to the dirt by an older child and called names like ‘ching-chong’. One time in the playground at school, I had a bad fall on the gravel and my knee was grazed and bloody. I went to the principle’s office crying and he ignored me. I later found out that the same principle had muttered something racist to my older brother. I started to make the connection that I was somehow ‘different’ from everyone else, which is a hard lesson to learn for an innocent kid. Also, when I used to play Aussie Rules football in the little league, other parents racially vilified me on one occasion. Around the neighbourhood, there was a bully who used to pull faces at me and call me racist names.

At eight years of age, the whole family relocated to Jakarta, Indonesia, due to my father’s work. I attended the Jakarta International School there, which was run in accordance with the U.S. educational system, up until Year Seven. My first year at the school was hard, because again I was the ‘new kid’. Again I was the ‘outsider’. Actually, I think I have felt like an outsider all my life, which is also due to the fact at being of being a brown Australian and never really being accepted as a ‘real Australian’ and being constantly asked ‘where are you from?’ Anyway, in my first year at the new school, where most of my classmates were American, I was teased quite often for my Australian accent. In the following years, my coping strategy was to fake an American accent, just to fit in. I did this every day at school for years. So when I had friends over at my house, I was caused considerable distress should my parents hear me talking differently to my friends.

I completed Years Eight through to Eleven at a private co-educational Anglican school in Perth called All Saints’ College. Once again I was the ‘new kid’ in school and I took some time to find a regular group of friends. For the first few weeks at school I would hide in the bathroom at lunch-time, terrified of appearing like a loner. From day one, I experienced racist abuse at this school.

I was at highschool during the rise of the One Nation Party and anti-Asian sentiment was fashionable, long before Middle Easterners ever became the scapegoats. Peers at school regularly made anti-Asian remarks. My strategy to deal with this at the time was to hide the fact that I was half-Asian. Instead I tried to pass myself off as half-Polynesian, believing this to be more acceptable to the anglo-Saxon majority. Nevertheless, the racist abuse continued. It ranged from having fruit thrown at me by older students, to being called a ‘black cunt’ and pushed around on the rugby field, to being told to ‘go back where you came from’ on the basketball court. In this latter incident, I retaliated with my fists and the school’s response was to expell me from the basketball team, even though I was their star player and even though I was the victim of racial vilification.

I also had a fight with a good friend at school who I found out sympathised with One Nation. It hurt to find out how he felt about Asian immigrants (since my mother was one) and also to lose him as a friend. On yet another occasion, when I was wandering around at lunchtime trying to find some people I could sit with, I went and approached the ‘cool group’, one of whom told me to “fuck off, we don’t want black cunts around here”. I replied “But I’m not black, I’m brown” believing this colour to be more acceptable. “Well then, we don’t want brown cunts either”.

The racist nature of the school caused a lot of the Asian students to stick together and they all sat together at lunchtime. People made fun of them and labelled the part of the school grounds where they gathered as ‘Chinatown’. I did not associate with them as it was my ardent wish to be accepted in white circles. Nowadays, my ideas are very different.

Naturally, incidents such as these deeply affected me as a teenager. Not only did I have to grapple with all the difficult issues associated with puberty, but also had to grapple with a sense of belonging. These experiences only served to exacerbate my feeling as an ‘outsider’ everywhere I go and which I have carried with me all my life.

The one positive that I can draw is that I have been heavily politicised and radicalised through these experiences. And today I have a fire in the belly and a passion for social justice because of it. For that I am a better person.”


The National identity of Australians with one migrant parent is tenuous, complex and compounded, even in the case of those who could claim 6th generation status. Bhabha’s notions of hybridity and interstitiality help to explain some of the identity of first and second generation Australians with 5th generation Australian parents. Another aspect comes to the fore in looking at the data, and that is the notion of multidimensionality in identity. That is, participants “felt” Australian or “felt” something else. The “something else” was something they did not always want to volunteer.. (Bhabha 2005).
Although all members of the family can claim 6th generation status with English, Scottish and Irish ancestry and were born within Australia some family members did not relate to the Anglo Celtic side of the family at all. Whilst the participants feel themselves to be Australians, they don’t feel as if they are only Australian, and are hesitant to volunteer this information. (2) Some of the participants have been racially vilified for having dark skin and others for looking European ( eg the Eurotourist , “my name is Jon Johnson I come from Wisconsin sung as a mocking ditty) Some of the participants feel that it has not affected them at all except they are aware that their own parent has an accent that is different than the mainstream. The Greek children have not participated in the Greek community in Melbourne but have been back to Greece to meet relatives. The Australian-American children (2 of them) have been back to the United States on one occasion but do not associate in Australia with the American society or any American cultural group. The Filipino Australians have been back to the Philippines on many occasions, met relatives, and one participant says: “ Actually, I don’t feel Filipino either. I am an outsider here in the Philippines, too, especially seeing that I don’t speak the language. I consider my identity to be that of a global citizen. That is why I am studying transnational activism, because I am interested in the types of discourses (like global citizenship, cosmopolitanism, etc.) that are informing global activist work; discourses which might supercede and bury narrow nationalism once and for all” (10 Sept. post from the Philippines). Marco in particular has studied Filipino people in Berkeley and in the Philippines, and has made ties with Zapatistas and other resistance groups of colour. His experiences with white Australians have been very traumatic despite the fact that he has a very supportive white father and supportive family of 3 brothers and a devoted mother.

One participant would like to return to a restricted immigration policy after being bashed by what he believes were a group of Lebanese, requiring stitches all over his face and hospitalization, a random attack in Fremantle. The same participant was also arrested from his family home in Jan. 2001 at 11 at night, taken to the East Perth lock up for 48 hours (put into a cell where an Aboriginal man had hung himself the night before) and when his parents arrived in court on the Monday, the magistrate dropped all the charges. In that case there was correspondence with Noam Chomsky who assured us that something like that ‘would only happen in the ghettoes of America”. (Chomsky, 2001).

The children with one Australian parent and one migrant parent all have dual identities such as “I’m an Australian but my father is Greek” “I’m an Australian but my mother is Filipina” I’m an Australian but my mother is a second generation American with Ukranian Jewish grandparents. Europeans, even Northern Europeans with blonde hair, are identified and singled out as not part of the ‘blood clan.” The ghost of racism is still haunting us.

Photos of family


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