Italian settlers? Catherine Dewhirst, ‘Colonising Italians: Italian imperialism and agricultural ‘colonies’ in Australia, 1881–1914’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 2015
Abstract: The historiography of Australian imperialism before the First World War has often neglected a context wider than the relationship with Great Britain. Yet this era also implicated non-British governments and their emigrants. Despite their small numbers, Italian settlers are significant for highlighting Italy’s empire-building and Australia’s struggles for national and imperial unity. Italy’s foreign policies after 1901 opened commerical opportunities across its diasporic networks, which included subsidising agricultural ‘colonies’ in Australia. The contemporary discourses of sectarianism and racism voiced before Federation articulated political and popular resistance against Italian immigrants. The rhetoric shifted after Federation as state governments examined the issue of land tenure for closer settlements (small agricultural farms), appealing to an argument about serving unemployed Australians before approving foreign settler schemes. The history leading up to two Italian projects in Western Australia and Queensland in 1907 allows reflections on Italy’s diaspora colonisation and Australian responses to foreign imperialism.
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