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‘It's not really us discriminating against immigrants, it's more telling people how to fit in’: Constructing the nation in immigration talk in New Zealand



Previous research has demonstrated that talk about immigration can function to produce, reproduce and stabilize racism (Capdevila & Callaghan, 2008). In New Zealand (NZ), changes in immigration policy have seen a rapid increase in diverse groups of migrants with varied cultural backgrounds entering the country in the past two decades. Given its unique colonial history and ‘settler nationality in a bicultural nation’ (Bell, 2009), we explored how young NZ adults talk about and produce meanings and understandings of immigration, immigrants and cultural diversity. Appealing to notions of NZ as ‘one society’, as English speaking, and as English looking participants constructed NZ, NZ national identity and the NZ economy in particular ways. This constituted a nationalist rhetoric that was taken up in common-sense ways by participants to legitimize racist talk whilst simultaneously acting to locate participants themselves as reasonable and moral individuals. It is concluded that nationalist discourses function to reinforce patterns of social dominance and perpetuate the notion of New Zealanders as largely white, European-looking and English-speaking. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.