This article maps the in-situ affective strategies employed by Indian leaders to counter the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act, the legal cornerstone of the White Australia Policy. It explores how a masseur, Teepoo Hall, and a merchant, Khooda Bux, mobilised Indian trade networks at a time when British imperial networks were in complex tension with growing settler Australian and Indian projects of national independence. It does so by paying attention to the urban position of shop counters and massage benches: objects that brought strangers and acquaintances into relations economic and intimate, from where affect was produced and circulated. New imperial histories have privileged a wide-lens transnational frame. I argue that a determined focus on counters and benches—sites of bodily density that I term "clustering objects"—affords a closer view of the processes of networking and their spatial-affective dynamics. In fin-de-siècle Melbourne, counters were privileged sites where Indians and White settlers forged bonds that linked individuals to larger, transoceanic and anti-imperial networks.


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