Asian Women in Australian Soap Operas: Questioning Idealized Hybrid Representation

  •  Monika Winarnita    


Representations of Asian women in Australian soap operas and television dramas contribute to debate about the incorporation of ‘ethnic’ identities within multicultural Australia. As an alternative concept for analyzing representation, notions of hybridity as the mixing of cultural and racial identity have come into prominence. Hybridity is a complex concept and is not simply a progressive means of representing Asian women. Key criticisms of the hybridity theory are that it promotes a happy, safe and simplified vision of multicultural harmony, or that it leads to violence and alienation. In this paper, hybridity is further divided into bounded culture and translocal culture categories which together cover the range of meanings invoked in discussions on representation. The complex nature of hybridity then illustrated by an analysis of two television dramas with Asian women characters, Heartbreak High and Bondi Banquet. The analyses of these characters show that the contradictory elements of melodrama and realism are limiting and can still have the effect of representing Asian women as controversial figures within a multicultural Australian identity.

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