Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Immigration restriction: rethinking period and place from settler colonies to postcolonial nations*

  • Alison Bashford (a1)

Immigration acts have long been analysed as instrumental to the working of the modern nation-state. A particular focus has been the racial exclusions and restrictions that were adopted by aspirationally white, new world nation-states: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. This article looks again at the long modern history of immigration restriction in order to connect the history of these settler-colonial race-based exclusions (much studied) with immigration restriction in postcolonial nation-states (little studied). It argues for the need to expand the scope of immigration restriction histories geographically, temporally and substantively: beyond the settler nation, beyond the Second World War, and beyond ‘race’. The article focuses on the Asia-Pacific region, bringing into a single analytical frame the early immigration laws of New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Canada on the one hand and those of Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Fiji on the other.

Hide All

The author extends thanks to Sunil Amrith, Paul Kramer, Jane McAdam, and participants at the World History Seminar, University of Cambridge, as well as the editors of, and anonymous readers for, this journal. This research has been funded by the Australian Research Council.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds , Drawing the global colour line: white men's countries and the international challenge of racial equality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008

Adam McKeown , ‘Global migration, 1846–1940’, Journal of World History, 15, 2, 2004, pp. 155189

Sunil S. Amrith , Migration and diaspora in modern Asia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011

Mae M. Ngai , ‘Chinese miners, headmen, and protectorates on the Victorian goldfields, 1858–68’, Australian Historical Studies, 42, 1, 2011, pp. 1024

Marilyn Lake , ‘Chinese colonists assert their “common human rights”: cosmopolitanism as subject and method of history’, Journal of World History, 21, 3, 2010, pp. 375392

Jeremy Martens , ‘A transnational history of immigration restriction’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 34, 3, 2006, pp. 323344

Alison Bashford and Catie Gilchrist , ‘The colonial history of the 1905 Aliens Act’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 40, 3, 2012, pp. 409437

Alison Bashford , ‘Insanity and immigration restriction’, in Catherine Cox and Hilary Marland, eds., Migration, health, and ethnicity in the modern world, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013, pp. 1435

Adam McKeown , ‘Ritualization of regulation: the enforcement of Chinese exclusion in the United States and China’, American Historical Review, 108, 2, 2003, pp. 377403

Sunil S. Amrith , ‘Indians overseas? Governing Tamil migration to Malaya, 1870–1941’, Past & Present, 208, 1, 2010, pp. 231261

Kevin Blackburn , ‘Disguised anti-colonialism: protest against the white Australia policy in Malaya and Singapore, 1947–1962’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 55, 1, 2001, pp. 101117

Sukanya Banerjee , Becoming imperial citizens: Indians in the late Victorian empire, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010

Erika Lee , ‘Orientalisms in the Americas: a hemispheric approach to Asian American history’, Journal of Asian American Studies, 8, 3, 2005, pp. 235256

David Cook-Martin and David FitzGerald , ‘Liberalism and the limits of inclusion: race and immigration law in the Americas, 1850–2000’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 41, 1, 2010, pp. 725

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Global History
  • ISSN: 1740-0228
  • EISSN: 1740-0236
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-global-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 12
Total number of PDF views: 150 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 352 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.