in: Race and class: Journal on racism, empire and globalisation, Volume 61, Issue 2, p. 43-61
ISSN: 0306-3968 (print), 1741-3125 (electronic)
This study examines the character of racism as a social relation. As such, racism is continuously produced and modified, not only culturally and ideologically but also in social interaction. Understanding racism and its repercussions demands close investigation of all the processes involved. An instructive example is an incident that unfolded in the early 1910s in Broome, Western Australia. The exemption from immigration restriction of a Japanese doctor raised tempers at a time when the nationwide aspiration for a racially homogeneous society determined political and social attitudes, and 'whiteness' was a crucial element of Australianness. The possibility of admitting a Japanese professional to a town that was already suspected of race chaos fuelled debates about the question of 'coloured labour' and the 'yellow peril', while challenging the unambiguousness of class and race boundaries. The influence and wealth of some Japanese, the indispensable position of their compatriots in the pearling industry, and the skills and reputation of their doctor, supplemented with the distinct racial pride of the whole Japanese community, proved to massively impede and disrupt the unrestricted implementation of white supremacy.