This thesis examines the construction and reconstruction of identity among Cambodians in Australia. The fieldwork was carried out in a suburb of Melbourne from December 2003 until June 2004.
In this thesis I discuss the process of constructing and reconstructing identity both in relation to collective expression and individual variation. The chapters in this thesis will describe how historical events, customs, traditions and attitudes in Cambodia and Australia affect the construction and reconstruction of identity and sense of belonging for Cambodians today. This process is understood to be situational and changing. In a theoretical perspective, this thesis is influenced by Kearney s concepts of external and internal differentiation. By adopting his analysis it is possible to investigate variations among the group. There seems to be noticeable differences between how the older and the younger generation relate to constructing identities and traditional cultural practices in a new context. Therefore it is vital to focus on different age groups as well as arrival time in Australia when examining change and continuity in cultural practices. In an attempt to gain a better understanding of these issues three different arenas will be used as analytical departure points: individual variations, Australia as a multicultural society and the roles of a welfare organization and of a Buddhist temple (two aspects of civil society).