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British India, White Australia: Overseas Indians, Intercolonial Relations and the Empire

2020 - Shortlisted

Shortlisted

Judges' comments

Covering the period in which both Australian identity and the Indian independence movement were forged, British India, White Australia tackles a little-known but important subject for Australian multiculturalism and geopolitics. Focusing on the triangular tensions and connections between the British Empire, Australia and India, Maclean concludes that India-Australia relations were constrained by the White Australia policy and by Australian support for the British Empire as the bedrock of national security and identity as white Australians.

The research includes illuminating visual materials and draws on manuscripts, archives, and newspaper sources on three continents. Its critical analytic approach to the evidence is discriminating and superior in its judgments. Clearly argued and presented, in spare but elegant and precise prose, it is a model work, accessible to both academics and the general public. It is also timely because it speaks to the growing significance of India for Australia through immigration and economic interests.