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The great white walls are built : restrictive immigration to North America and Australasia, 1836-1888

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: The great white walls are built : restrictive immigration to North America and Australasia, 1836-1888
Author(s): Price, Charles Archibald
Date published: 1974
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : The Australian Institute of International Affairs in association with Australian National University Press
Before the 1840s only a trickle of Cantonese 'coolies and labourers' had come to the Pacific region. But in the great goldrushes of 1848 to 1854 in California, Eastern Australia, New Zealand, and British Columbia the trickle became a flood. When gold began to peter out, the Chinese remained, enjoying a brief period of humanitarian liberalism. But in the 1870s renewed immigration aroused fear of slave labour and racist antipathy towards 'inferior' races. One by one the four areas erected barriers against the Chinese, by severe restriction on immigration and harsh discriminatory control of the settlers. In describing their evolution and growth Dr Price distinguishes common sources for what seem purely local grievances, and shows how widespread everyday pressures gave rise to policies apparently baseless and unnecessary. These policies were the great white walls', analogous with China's Great Wall built to keep out the barbarians. This humane study looks at coloured migration from the point of its victims as well as from that of the dominant white society. It shows that the notorious 'White Australia Policy' is not unique but had its counterparts in the other regions of the Pacific. It adds a new dimension to understanding the political, social, economic, and moral forces that caused savage and widespread restrictions on coloured immigration.


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