Read background paper to Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta (OUATC)

OUATC was influenced by a paper of mine prepared in the early 2000’s, just after the harshest period of the Cabramatta crisis. To read the paper, click here.


The Vietnamese arrival and integration into Australia represents a quintessential case of cultures in collision. In 1975 there was effectively no Vietnamese presence. Over the next twenty five years the community grew to over two hundred thousand members. Before 1975 Vietnam and Australia barely knew each other – except through the prism of the American War. By 2001 Generation 2 were a significant part of Australian political, economic and cultural life.  The Vietnamese were used as the trigger for the end of the bi-partisanship on multiculturalism at the end of the 1970s, were implicated in the rising paranoia about unsafe cities in the 1980s, and centrally embroiled in the emergence of a politics of race in the 1990s. They also reflect two trajectories of integration – the anomie associated with marginalization, and the trans-national engagement associated with globalizing elites. This paper explores processes of cultural collision and reconstitution through an examination of four dimensions of the Vietnamese in Australia –  the criminal world of the heroin trade; the position of Vietnamese women in the economy of the clothing industry;  the rise and fall of criminal and politician Phuong Ngo; and the celebration of Generation 2.


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