Constructing the 'white' worker in North Australia



Publication Details

Martinez, J. T. (2007). Constructing the ''white'' worker in North Australia. In L. Boucher, J. Carey & K. Ellinghaus (Eds.), Historicising Whiteness: Transnational Perspectives on the Construction of an Identity (pp. 115-123). Melbourne: RMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne.


The construction of the white worker in early twentieth-century Australia wasan integral part of a broader process by which the new nation was imaginedas egalitarian, but where equality was available only to white citizens. Thisformulation becomes complicated when considered in the context of the multiethnic workforce in northern Australia. Where nationalist white unionists took part in characterising the work done by non-white workers as coolie or slave labour, they unwittingly maintained a social hierarchy that privileged race over class. This colonial hierarchy granted privilege to white people on the basis of their standing as colonial masters, but there was no place in thissystem for a white working class.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Historicising Whiteness

Please refer to publisher version or contact your library.