Constructions of racism in the Australian parliamentary debates on asylum seekers
Danielle Every & Martha Augoustinos
Danielle Every is a researcher at Central Queensland University and Martha Augoustinos is a researcher at the University of Adelaide. Both authors have written papers dating over ten years in areas surrounding refugee advocacy, racism, and political discourse therefore it can be said that they are ‘experts’ in this field. The paper appears to be well researched and referenced drawing upon more conceptual ideas on racism written by authors as far back as 1988, as well as more current social studies.
Every and Augoustinos introduces the idea of ‘new racism’ in Australian parliamentary debates. This refers to tactics such as “categorical generalisations about asylum seekers, the unequal treatment of asylum seekers compared with other, similar groups, talk-about-national-sovereignty, and culture-as-natural-difference talk”. The concluding position in this article explains that with these elements of ‘new racism’ in our political discourse, it becomes more difficult to counteract racism towards asylum seekers and refugees, as it now appears in ways that are not overtly extreme and violent.
Racism is an issue that is under constant scrutiny in the academic community. Racism in relation to refugees however, is an area that is rarely explored. Perhaps this is because the refugee crisis ebbs and flows in its prominence as a social issue, but with the lack of comparative elements, it is hard to gauge whether or not this article has been approached in a biased manner.
Attitudes Towards Asylum Seekers: The Australian Experience
Nick Haslam and Elise Holland
Nick Haslam and Elise Holland are both professors of psychology at the University of Melbourne. Haslam and Holland in the past have conducted research surrounding prejudice, stigma, and social psychology. However neither have written about asylum seekers and refugees in the past so they may not be considered ‘experts’ in the field. However, they support the article with numerous accounts of previous psychological research in areas concerning refugees and other social psychology phenomenons.
Haslam and Holland’s article views the asylum seeker and refugee issue through a psychological lense. They draw on research that examines the types of emotions people often associate with refugees, finding that fear and disgust are common. These emotions are associated with the psychological process of dehumanising, which can in turn often shape public opinion. Hasland and Holland conclude the article by taking a stance that these psychological reactions must change, they state “rather than simply trying to make perceptions of asylum seekers less negative and denigrating, we should also try to make them more human”.
There is definitely a much stronger pro-refugee bias in this article than other psychological studies on the issue that I have briefly read. However, while reading this piece and seeing Haslam and Holland draw upon previous psychological studies, I had to take into consideration Jacquie’s comment in the second lecture that data will always be shaped and interpreted by people. I suppose that we must also keep in mind that these psychology studies are interpretations of data and never entirely ‘trustworthy’ and true facts.
Every, D. & Augoustinos, M. 2007, ‘Constructions of racism in the Australian parliamentary debates on asylum seekers’, Discourse & Society, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 411-36.
Haslam, N. & Holland, E. 2012, ‘Attitudes towards asylum seekers: The Australian experience’, in Anonymous Peace psychology in Australia, Springer, pp. 107-20.