Undesirable Alien To Good Citizen: Syrian/Lebanese In A “White” Australia
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the arrival in Australia of increasing numbers of immigrants from Syria/Lebanon coincided with a period of economic insecurity and burgeoning white, Christian nationalism. Consequently, although influenced by many factors, the settlement experience of these immigrants, who were identified as non-white, non-European and officially classified as Asian, was fundamentally shaped by racially exclusive government legislation and policies formed within the transnational context of the politics of whiteness. Rejecting their classification as Asian, the immigrants did not contest whiteness as the criterion for acceptability but argued they had erroneously been excluded from the “white race.” Using their physical appearance, Christian religion, and the presence of a significant proportion of women to support their case, Syrian/Lebanese and their advocates argued they were white, European, and Christian and hence possessed the necessary qualities to be good citizens.
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