First symposium of the Indian Diaspora in Australia

Sponsor: Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne
Venue: Village Show Theatrette, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
Date: 27 September 2013 (Friday)

Summary
This symposium aims to reinforce the work being done by the Australia India Institute (through its tiffin talks, public seminars and conferences) in boosting Australia’s cultural literacy about South Asia, as well as in facilitating Australia-India relations at both the cultural policy and people-to-people levels. It is also expected to play a key role in generating a framework for cultural understanding between the two nations that capitalises on the strengths of the vibrant South Asian diaspora in Australia, and addresses the following goals:

  1. Enabling the discussion of the social-cultural as well as the political issues faced by the vast array of people of Indian origin living in Australia.
  2. Showcasing Indian-Australian artistic talent, whether in the form of writing, film, music, or other forms.
  3. Sharing research and stories that shed light on the benefits of inter-cultural dialogue, and the hurdles encountered in facilitating the same.
  4. Finding ways to engage the broader Indian community in the mainstream Australian arts sector to encourage stronger social cohesion and more vigorous political cooperation between Indian communities and mainstream Australian communities.
  5. Building partnerships between Indian businesses and cultural projects in Australia so that the voices of Indian Australian communities may be heard in mainstream Australia.

Background
According to the 2011 census, India is the biggest source of recent migrants to Australia. Mainstream and community news outlets quickly picked up this statistic, with the Indian-Australian publication Indian Herald reporting that Hinduism is Australia’s fastest-growing religion, and Melbourne’s The Age claiming that the city’s one in five Asian-born residents are making it a more socially conservative place. However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ quantitative research is yet to be backed up by a qualitative dimension, and the media stories only provide anecdotal (and sometimes suspiciously simplistic) perspectives on this development.

It is important to more accurately consider the composition and migration histories of the growing numbers of Indian-Australians, to explore proper ways to assess their immediate and future needs, and to examine the quality of their interactions with the wider Australian community.

Therefore, critical, creative or community-based presentation proposals that address any of the following questions are welcome:

  • Who represents the Indian community when there is a crisis, or an important issue on the table?
  • What is the history of this group, its current activities and everyday practices, and its aspirations for the future?
  • What does it mean to be Indian-Australian? As a new diasporic group, this needs in-depth research and discussion. It cannot always be grouped together with Indian expatriates living in comparable nations such as the US, the UK and Canada.
  • How can inter-cultural dialogue be promoted, especially through arts and community initiatives?

Please send a 200-word proposal and a 50-word bio by Monday, 25 March 2013 to: gondwanalandings@gmail.com

Organising Committee: Sukhmani Khorana, Roanna Gonsalves, Ana Tiwary, Devaki Monani.

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