Australia would benefit from many more refugees says eminent Australian anthropologist Professor Bruce Kapferer who is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Griffith University Law School.

Professor Kapferer from the University of Bergen Norway said instead of stopping the influx of Syrian refugees Australia should be increasing its intake and welcoming new arrivals.

He said despite political rhetoric and scaremongering, some country areas of Australia disadvantaged by the rise of urbanisation had been revitalised by refugees.

“These include Sudanese immigrants around Tamworth or the many South Asian immigrants in country towns in NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Far North Queensland has long seen the benefits of immigrants from the Middle East and East Asia.

“As well as professions and skilled workers, many refugees are skilled in dry land agriculture. Australia has huge spaces of land that could benefit from immigrants. This is an opportunity, not a threat and we should grab it.”

Professor Kapferer was recently awarded a Euro 5 million European Research Council grant for a project on Egalitarianism.

The five-year international project aims to study egalitarian structures and processes and their underlying values.

“It aims to open up Western thought to a more critical reflection on the history of the concept of egalitarianism.”

Professor Kapferer added that, “Australia is very important to the project as I’ll be looking at the roots of Australian egalitarianism and what it actually means today.”

“We think we live in an egalitarian society but you only have to look at the way we treat refugees to see that we’re not. “We try to make immigrants ‘fit in’ with our notion of a civilised community.

“The inclusiveness of Australian egalitarianism — the incorporation within the Australian community — implicitly and often quite explicitly insists on the submission of the cultural values of the immigrant to those held to be the values of the dominant host society.

“Sometimes egalitarian value can be complicit in the decline of democratic possibility.

“This is happening in Australia to some extent, particularly with the growing strength of corporatism that harnesses egalitarian value to its political and social interests.”

Considered one of the most prominent social anthropologists in the world, Professor Bruce Kapferer has worked at the University of Bergen since 1999.

He is a former Professor of Anthropology at University College London, where he maintains the position of Honorary Professor. His diverse research includes work on ethnic identity, nationalism, and violence across many cultural contexts.