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This article focuses on Clara Law's Letters to Ali (2004) as a recent example of a refugee-focused documentary film that both complicates and destabilizes the essential and exclusive categories of whiteness and otherness that have shaped Australian identity politics through recent
politics. Centrally, this article will position Letters to Ali as a subversive project in accordance with Homi Bhabha's ideas of unsettling, displacing and disturbing the authority of normative whiteness that pervades our national identity in this climate. Through positioning whiteness
as neither fixed nor final due to the incommensurable differences it must take into account, this article will discuss both formal and narrative elements of Letters to Ali as working towards destabilizing an essential and static whiteness and, instead, focusing on its marked and constructed
nature. Critiquing whiteness as an ideal, according to Bhabha, Ghassan Hage and others, this discussion will displace and disrupt its invisibility or normativity. In doing so, whiteness will be examined as part of national strategies of dominance and subordination, rather than as an authentic
or singular identity, reveal[ing] within the very integuments of whiteness the agonistic elements that makes it the unsettled, disturbed form of authority. Clara Law's position as Asian Australian film-maker in relation to other national others such as Ali, the refugee subject of
the film, will be crucial to this disruption: Law's own story of migration, of resettlement and naturalization is foregrounded in the film's narrative and, as such, she and partner Eddie Fong are the national citizens against which the refugee is to be measured in this binary logic. Taking
into account these incommensurable differences of the white identity, the categories of Us and Them; of Australians and others, are ruptured and the frameworks of national membership are opened up to more liminal, transnational notions of identity and belonging.
Launched in 2007, the journal engages in critical discussion of cinema from the Australian, New Zealand and Pacific region. Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific regions are home to many indigenous nations and immigrant cultures from all around the world. Studies in Australasian Cinema will maintain an emphasis on this diversity with a special interest in postcolonial politics and contexts.