Labour History

Australian Orientalism and Liberal Governance: Asian Labour in South Australia and the Northern Territory, 1890s

Labour History (2001), 80, (1), 173–190.

Abstract

This article seeks to provide a post colonial analysis of race relations and to contribute a critical examination of the discourses and the government of racialisation. Chinese labour in South Australia and the Northern Territory is examined in relation to the development of citizenship, race and the White Australia Policy. The aim of examining race relations between Europeans and Orientals is to problematise the ‘race question’ in terms of racial comportment, especially as it pertains to issues of labour, sexuality, life, and production. The paper queries the efficacy of historical accounts that have become mired in liberal orthodoxy or naive Marxism in relation to these kinds of racial issues. This account provides a conceptual model derived from the writings of Michel Foucault and Edward Said. The focal point is the multiple processes and diverse trajectories of events, discourses and practices concerned with race relations. In particular, one of the controlling generalities of modernity - namely, science becomes a key focus of analysis especially in relation to its impact on government policy. The investigation is expository in as far as this remains a contested area in the historical terrain.

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Author details

Krisjansen, Ivan

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