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Subject: Cultural Studies »

Andrew Markus looks at how the concept of "race" applies in Victoria

Andrew Markus.

Historian Andrew Markus looks at how the concept of "race" applies in Victoria



Date Added:

02 February 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

6.1 MB






... is that in the period of the gold rushes, it was still quite an open situation of what policies should be adopted and there were all sorts of debates about how for example, the Chinese who were the largest of the non-European groups, how they should be treated and in the quest to understand that I also looked at California and tried to understand how the Chinese were being treated in California and found that one of the dynamics of the Australian situation was this openness and fluidity so whereas in a situation in California where there was an entrenched policy of racial discrimination stemming from the treatment of African slaves, and people fitted into that sort of model, in Australia, it was still developing and people didnít quite know what to do. And so you had fits and starts in development of Australian policy.


So for a time there was restrictions but then those restrictions were removed. So from the 1860s to the 1880s, there were no restrictions and then they were reintroduced again. So people Ė argued were just testing the waters, seeing how they stood on various issues and that the policy was developing. They had no idea of race. But they did have ideas of difference. And they tried to understand whether those differences were permanent or whether they were something that would pass.


And what you see developing in the second half of the 19th Century, is ideas which are in the process of being formed, solidified. And the various factors that contribute to that, part of that, has to do with what we might call the political economy of the Australian colonies. The way the economy developed, their labour requirements and so on. And part of it had to do with the development of racial ideas in the European context, so social Darwinism was quite influential in Australia, I argued.


And so what you have happening by the end of that century is that those ideas have come together and theyíre coming together in the form which says, basically that, this is a white manís country and that there can be no further immigration from Asia which was the main concern, but it didnít stop there.


End transcript.