Race and Sexuality: Colonial Ghosts and Contemporary Orientalisms

  • Monique MulhollandEmail author
Reference work entry


This chapter takes pause to reflect on what is meant by race and ethnicity and asks: How do historical meanings and discourses about race and ethnicity shape the present? And by extension, where and when did the idea of race and ethnicity emerge, and with what effects? It is vital to interrogate terms and how we use them because constructions of race and ethnicity are intimacy connected to history and power – as long argued by postcolonial and critical race scholars, the social constructions of race and ethnicity are intimately connected to colonial and orientalist discourses which “fixed” and homogenized the cultures of “others.” As such, contemporary studies of race and ethnicity are haunted by “colonial ghosts” which orientate how we understand the present. As a way to explore these colonial ghosts, this chapter draws on current research about gender, sexuality, and race in Australia which have international relevance for the ways in which “raced others” negotiate sexuality in contexts of migration. In the first part of the chapter, I explore the connections between colonial discourses and constructions of sexuality. I then unpack two case studies which provide a fascinating set of reflections from participants about the ubiquitous presence of colonial ghosts in their everyday lives. Most importantly, they provide a powerful set of reflections and responses from those cast as “other” in Australia, responses which work to “unfix” colonial alterities.


Race Orientalism Colonial discourse Sexuality 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Humanities, Arts and Social SciencesThe Flinders University of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Steven Ratuva
    • 1
    • 2
  • Airini
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and SociologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific StudiesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  3. 3.Faculty of Education and Social WorkThompson Rivers UniversityKamloopsCanada

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