his article recovers the essential imperial and international context of the Immigration Restriction Act in 1901, and argues that the foundational deliberations that produced the White Australia Policy cannot be fully understood without attention to that global perspective. Indeed, the real and potential imperial and international implications of Asian restriction dominated the parliamentary debates and influenced the policy's character and application from the outset. The debate was not about whether to implement a restrictive immigration regime, it was about how to implement that regime, a calculus suffused with a range of imperial and international considerations. This paper therefore argues that the White Australia Policy was a consciously and deliberately imperial and international act that imparted a distinctly global inflection to the Australian nation building project at its inception.


This is the author accepted manuscript version of the original work, © 2017. Edinburgh University Press.

Atkinson, D. “The White Australia Policy, the British Empire, and the World,” Britain and the World 8, 2 (September 2015): 204-224. DOI: 10.3366/brw.2015.0191


White Australia Policy, Asian Migration, Empire, Foreign Relations

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