On settlers and exogenous alterities: Dianne Hall, Elizabeth Malcolm, ‘“English Institutions and the Irish Race”: Race and Politics in Late Nineteenth-Century Australia’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 62, 1, 2016, pp. 1-15
Abstract: During the 1880s there was fierce debate in colonial Australia and throughout the English-speaking world about the functioning of increasingly democratic societies and especially who, in terms of race, class and gender, was qualified to participate in the political process. In this formative period of what later became known as the “White Australia policy”, minorities were under intense scrutiny and, within the settler population, the Catholic Irish were the most numerous minority. This paper discusses two controversial and widely-reported 1881 articles by Melbourne writer, A.M. Topp. He argued strongly that the Celtic Irish were actually an “alien” race, fundamentally antithetical to English governance and morality. Mass Irish migration, in Topp’s view, constituted a threat to the political stability and racial superiority of the whole English-speaking world. Topp drew upon contemporary racial science and the works of leading intellectuals, but he was also influenced by political crises then occurring in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. Topp’s articles, and the responses they elicited, highlight the complexities of race in colonial Australia by demonstrating that major racial differences were perceived by some to exist within what has often been portrayed as a largely homogenous “white” settler society.
Filed under: Uncategorized |