The Contradictions of White Nationalism in a Global Age: Lessons from Early 20th Century Melbourne

[Shows Little Bourke Street between William and Queen Streets] : from the tower of Dr Fitzgerald's residence Lonsdale Street West / John No-one, photographer. [Melbourne]: Crown Lands and Survey 1869
[Shows Little Bourke Street between William and Queen Streets] : from the tower of Dr Fitzgerald’s residence Lonsdale Street West / John No-one, photographer. [Melbourne]: Crown Lands and Survey 1869

Nadia Rhook
La Trobe University

Trump’s election is an equivocal ‘victory for white supremacy’, and justified cause for fear to circulate among people of Colour living in Anglo-dominated nations.[1] Yet history has seen other global upsurges in nationalist white supremacism, other times when fear and hope have made strange but productive bedfellows.

The 19th Century was the trans-imperial ‘age of mobility’. And it saw Melbourne become home to heterogeneous populations. By the time the Australian colonies united as a ‘white nation’ in 1901, a long history of migration connected Melbourne with global locales, from Punjab to Karachi, Canton to Hong Kong, Leicester to Oslo.[2]

Not only did Chinese migrants spread from southern provinces of Canton across the Pacific Rim, but so too did Indians, Afghans and Syrians migrate across borders internal to what is today known as South Asia. This included those highly permeable borders that demarcated Syria (part of the Ottoman Empire), the Emirate of Afghanistan (a buffer between the Russian and British Empires) and India (part of the British Empire). Many also ended up in Melbourne, the capital city of the Australian colony of Victoria. Continue reading “The Contradictions of White Nationalism in a Global Age: Lessons from Early 20th Century Melbourne”