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3 The Hostland A Designed Nation From Assimilation to Postmulticulturalism Australia is one of the world’s youngest settler nations, and it relentlessly attracts large numbers of immigrant settlers as well as an increasing number of transients: tourists, young people on working vacations, professionals and executives on job assignments, and temporary guest workers. According to the 2006 census, only 2.5 percent of the Australian population were indigenous Australians (ABS 2006) and therefore more than 97 percent of the population were immigrants and their descendants. From the first convict ships transporting prisoners from England in the late eighteenth century to today’s diverse migration patterns, Australia has been built as a nation of immigrants . The 2001 census showed that more than one-quarter of the population was born overseas, and this is, given the growing immigration program and falling birth rates, bound to be higher in the future. In comparison, in the latest U.S. Census (2000), 23 percent of the population were immigrants and their children. The proportion of immigrants in the general population of Australia is second only to Israel (Harvey 1997, 117). Today’s main source countries, apart from New Zealand, from where no visa is required to migrate to Australia, are the UK, China, India, and South Africa. Initially imagined as a British outpost in the Pacific and a “new Britannia ,” modern Australia was meant to be a white British nation, and has so far been largely created through the settlement of Britons (Appleyard 2004; Jupp 2002). When the colonies established on the Australian continent united as the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, the first major act of the Federal i-xiv_1-258_Coli.indd 70 9/23/08 11:10:54 AM the hostland · 71 Parliament was the Immigration Restriction Act, which virtually forbade non-Europeans from migrating to Australia for the next seventy years (Tavan 2005).1 After the last restrictions of the “White Australia Policy” gave way in the early 1970s, large intakes of non-European immigrants were imminent. Few nations in the world have been so obviously shaped by immigration. Immigration policies have designed the Australian nation and history and have consequently always been a topic of a passionate debate, to the present day. Historically, the ideal immigrant has been a Briton or at least a white European whose offspring could become indistinguishable from the “normal Australian self”—white and English-speaking—while the visibly different were a cause for concern because their intake inevitably disturbed the preferred order of things in which societies are ethnically and culturally homogeneous (Castles et al. 1991). Governments of all persuasions and all eras have considered this way of thinking fair and reasonable and have enacted it through policies of immigrant assimilation. Until after the Second World War, the large majority of migrants to Australia were Britons and Irish, and their quick assimilation was the unchallenged norm (Jordens 1995). A large number of Irish immigrated in the nineteenth century and in 1871 made up one-quarter of the overseas born in Australia, mostly filling the bottom working-class ranks. Their presence caused considerable anti-Catholic sentiment (Jupp 2001, 443–86). A large number of German settlers—Lutheran Figure 4. Map of Australia Source: CIA World Factbook i-xiv_1-258_Coli.indd 71 9/23/08 11:10:54 AM 72 . migration, class, and transnational identities religious refugees from eastern parts of Germany—arrived in South Australia in the 1830s and were seen as founding pioneers (Jupp 2001, 360). In the nineteenth century, Asian laborers, mainly Chinese but also smaller numbers of Japanese, Malays, Filipinos, and Afghans, who worked in mining, pearling, agriculture, and driving camels across the vast Australian deserts, triggered the fear of “Asianization” and prompted anti-Chinese restrictive immigration policies in the 1890s (Jupp 2001, 45). After the First World War, unpopular “swarthy” southern Europeans arrived in considerable numbers (Jupp 2002), especially after the United States restricted their immigration in the early 1920s. Between 1901 and 1940, 140,000 non-British European immigrants arrived in Australia (about 16 percent of the total intake), 40,000 from Italy (Murphy 1993, 44). In spite of this, in 1947 Australia was still one of the most monocultural societies in the world: 99 percent white and 96 percent British (Jupp 1998, 132). After the Second World War, the first large groups of nonEnglish -speaking migrants arrived in Australia. Most of them were refugees from postwar Europe, the so-called “displaced persons” (DPs), among them a considerable number of Yugoslavs and...


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