The early Australian press and the Middle Eastern 'other'
conference contributionposted on 01.01.2009, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan
In recent years, and particularly since the events of September 11 2001 and the subsequent “War on Terror”, much scholarly attention has been paid to the Australian news media’s role in stereotyping, homogenising, victimising and demonising people of Middle Eastern descent or of the Islamic faith. However, contemporary Australian journalists have not so much invented the tropes and stereotypes that they have used to construct this negative image and limited discursive field, as they have invoked a rich tapestry of pre-existing notions about the non-Western world. This paper therefore seeks to investigate the relationship between Edward Said’s notion of Orientalism and the Australian press of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Beginning with its deplorable coverage of Australia’s Indigenous people and the paranoia surrounding the “Asian Invasion” this paper sheds new light on the coverage of Islam and the Middle East in the early Australian press and the emergence of the “Muslim Menace”. Finally, this chapter concludes by noting that such a racialist history raises a host of questions and challenges for the contemporary Australian news media.