Orientalism according to Said (2003, p. 5) refers to an assemblage of untrue assumptions relating to the attitudes of the West towards the East, more so concerning the colonization of the East by the West. This term speaks more about the difference between the East and West and how the West has tried to transform the East, since they viewed themselves as having a superior culture. This superiority led to the colonization era, which was an attempt by the superior western cultures to transform the inferior eastern culture. Orientalism also refers to a greater extent to a style or a manner of life or even a culture that is associated with the Asians. For example the building of small ‘Asiatowns’ within big towns in non-Asiatic countries could also refer to orientalism.
Said (2003, p. 5) further claims that at the onset of European colonization, the Europeans divided the world into two parts, which is the west and the east, the occident and the orient, or the civilized and uncivilized. The Europeans used Orientalism to define who they were, and in most instances, they associated themselves with superior attributes and thus justified their colonization of Eastern nations with this belief. Orientalism was not only observed in the East versus the West scenario, but it was also seen in the representation of Asia in the Australian cultural practices. This paper seeks to explain the reflection of Orientalism in the Asia-Australian interactions and how this practice helps in the critical understanding of the Australian-Asian History.
Australia received its name from the Latin word ‘terra australis incognita’ or the unknown land in the south (Estensen 2007, p. 2). For sometime it remained unknown and a mystery to the rest of the world until the time when early explorers and settlers set foot upon it. It was viewed as a land dominated by people of backward cultures, histories and practices, making it a place fit for colonization by the western nations. Before the invasion of this land by the European colonizers, it was majorly occupied by the Torres and the Aborigines who comprised of nearly two hundred and fifty aboriginal languages (Koch & Hercus 2009, p. 71).
The Aborigines are thought of to have migrated into Australia by land bridges and through short sea-crossing from south east of Asia (Salmon 1999, p. 61). These early tribes lived a life of hunting and gathering until the first Europeans arrived into this subcontinent and altered their lifestyle. The culture of these early occupants of Australia was marked by a belief system known as the dreamtime, among other indigenous practices.
The arrival of European settlers led to the development of a more diverse culture in this subcontinent which is present to date. This diverse culture is often referred to as the Anglo-Celtic culture is what defines Australia today. This unique and diverse culture has borrowed much from the great Asian presence in Australia. It appears that links between Australia and...