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Karin Speedy, ‘Arab Castaways’/’French Escapees’: Mobilities, Border Protection and White Australia, 15-30

Article

Published onDec 01, 2016
Karin Speedy, ‘Arab Castaways’/’French Escapees’: Mobilities, Border Protection and White Australia, 15-30

Abstract
In 1901, the year of Australian Federation and the implementation of the White Australia Policy, a small boatload of suspicious, brown, Muslim men landed ‘illegally’ on the Far North Queensland coast. The reaction to their arrival on the part of locals and the authorities highlights the collision of ideologies in a space where established practices of Indigenous and non-white mobilities and openness to outsiders arriving by sea were being challenged by a new national framework that revolved around the policing of coastal borders and the restriction of movements. This article discusses the men’s gendered identities and the ways in which they were racialised and criminalised by the authorities and the press before being rejected as undesirables. In this early Federation coastal drama, we recognise the exclusionary discourses that have characterised Australia’s fixation with border security and the consequent imperative to keep out non-white others said to pose a threat to the nation on racial, religious or moral grounds. It provides yet another historical echo to the twenty-first century ‘Stop the Boats’ discourses and anti-refugee policies.

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