Contextualising Arab-Australian identity post the Arab Spring and amidst the current policy challenge of countering violent extremism in Australia

Stream: Panel 70 - Comparative Politics: Prejudice and Ethnic & Religious Minorities 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 9.00 am – 10.30 am


This paper locates responses to extremism in Australia within the broader context of identity construction, particularly for Arab-Australians. In 2011 the Arab world erupted in a wave of social and political protest popularly labelled the Arab Spring. The events held the promise of a new era of justice and rights for the people of the Middle East. In Australia the Arab Spring provided an opportunity to question assumptions underlying Arab identity. Despite increased migration from Arab countries under the policy of ‘multiculturalism’ the dominance of timeworn ideas about Arab identity still persist. Arab-Australians are often represented in popular discourse in ways that deny them membership to the imagined Australian community. More recently, the challenge of global extremism and appropriate responses among communities at risk, continues to highlight the gaps between how Arab-Australians are represented and how they represent themselves. This paper calls on new empirical evidence to argue that a lack of diversity exists in the way Arab-Australian people are represented within the broader ongoing debate about identity, belonging and amidst responses to extremism in Australia. The widening economic gap and associated social dislocation has had implications for members of the Arab-Australian community. This has been compounded by concerns about global conflict and questions about whether the concepts of justice and rights apply equally to the Middle East and its people. In this climate of heightened concern about extremism amongst sections of the Australian community, the challenge for policy makers is in appropriately acknowledging diversity in the identity of Arab-Australians.


Carla Liuzzo (Presenter), Macquarie University
Dr Carla Liuzzo is an independent academic and researcher based in Australia. Dr Liuzzo completed a PhD at Macquarie University in 2016 with a research focus on Arab-Australian identity, Arabic speaking communities and the 'Arab Spring'. Previously based in Qatar, Dr Liuzzo worked on food security policy, education and arts programs for the Qatari government. In Dubai she was a Research Analyst for Emirates Airline. Carla has a Masters of Arts in International Relations from the University of Leicester and a Bachelor of Business from the University of Technology Sydney..