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26.5.07

An Observation About Racial Self-Identification

For my dissertation I'm doing surveys of people living in the urban-wildland interface in New South Wales and New Jersey, the vast majority of whom are white. The "race" question on the surveys is open-ended. In both locations I've had about 10% identify as some particular non-white race, and a handful of people write "human." In New Jersey, the remainder have referred to themselves as either "white" or "Caucasian." But in New South Wales, there was about a 25-25-50 split between "white," "Caucasian," and "Australian." This confirms my anecdotal observation that white Australians often use "Australian" as a racial term, whereas Americans rarely do that. I'm not sure how many of the "Australians" identify that way because the white dominance of the country leads them to conflate race and nationality, and how many of them do it as an attempt to declare their colorblindness.

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