Racism in settler Australia: Amanuel Elias, Fethi Mansouri, Yin Paradies, ‘Race Relations in Australia: A Brief History’, in Amanuel Elias, Fethi Mansouri, Yin Paradies, Racism in Australia Today, Palgrave, 2021pp. 33-94


Abstrat: This chapter briefly surveys the history of race relations and the political implications of racism in Australia, highlighting the key moments that shaped the place of race in the country’s collective national identity. This includes a discussion on how racism evolved with colonialism in the context of the capitalist demand for labour, and the way it was used to justify the continuation of the settler colonial project. It explores the two distinct but interconnected aspects of Australian racial history: relations between settler-invaders and Indigenous Peoples, and the White Australia Policy that racially restricted immigration, particularly from Asian countries. The roots of racism are embedded in a history marked by wars, dispossession and colonial expansion that advanced racist violence, conceptualised in the literature as settler colonialism. Such sustained racist and exclusionary colonial projects have ensured the continued dominance of White Anglo-Europeans for more than two centuries with long-term adverse impact on Indigenous Peoples who endured violence and other racist policies that denied their dignity and rights, and forcibly removed Indigenous children. Scholars have argued that segregationist and assimilationist policies institutionalised racism in Australia, and helped maintain Anglo-Celtic hegemony and white domination. Post-War skilled and unskilled labour needs played a key role in affecting immigration policy in Australia, and led to the arrival of non-British migrants from Europe. As Australia’s demography kept changing because of the expanding migration programs, the racially motivated assimilationist project faltered. Since then Australia has gradually moved in the multicultural direction as cultural diversity has increased. Yet, Australian multiculturalism continues to unequally positions different ethnic groups, and privileges Anglo-Celtic heritage within the national framework, including in institutional power and in political leadership. Interpersonal and institutional racism remain entrenched in Australia, as evidenced in everyday racism, anti-migrant sentiments and extreme levels of Indigenous incarceration. This chapter also discusses the social climate of Australian race relations in the context of various policies including the White Australia Policy, the Racial Discrimination Act and Australia’s multicultural policies and their impact on both interpersonal and institutional racism.

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