This paper examines the ethnic identifications of 50 second-generation migrant- Australian women and I present a threefold typology to show how their identities were influenced by their Australian nationality. The first type is ‘not Australian’, which includes 13 women who rejected an Australian identity and instead adopted migrant ethnicities. The second type is ‘partly Australian’, and this category includes 36 women who adopted hyphenated migrant-Australian ethnic identities. The third type is ‘Australian’, and it included one woman who rejected her migrant ethnicity in favour of an Australian identity. Australian ideals of gender and freedom, ideas of citizenship and the women’s understanding of Anglo-Australian culture influenced the ways in which they negotiated their Australian identities. Beyond these influences, I argue that the participants’ understanding of multiculturalism has primarily influenced the social construction of their Australian nationality. As these women saw it, ‘being Australian was about having some sort of cultural background’ and having an ethnic identity that was a ‘mixture’ of both migrant and Australian identities was the norm. Being ‘100 percent Australian’ was equaled to losing their connection to their migrant cultures.
Proceedings of 'Community, place, change', the 2005 Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia, 05-08 December 2005 / Roberta Julian, Reannan Rottier and Rob White (eds.)