Race without Racial Classification: The Case of Australia

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:48 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Karen FARQUHARSON , Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
Australia is a settler nation that has been structured along racial lines, in particular, the White Australia Policy, which limited migration to people who were considered first ‘white’, then to those from Europe. However with the end of the White Australia Policy in the 1970s Australia stopped collecting most forms of racial data. As a result, Australia has no official racial classification system. Nevertheless, race and racism are part of everyday experience and discourse in Australia.

 There are debates around the collection of racial data. Proponents argue that it is difficult to measure racism without first measuring race. The counter-argument is that race, a social construction, is solidified and reified as a social institution through racial classification. If we are to dismantle racial hierarchy, we must first dismantle racial categorization. This paper considers race in the absence of a racial classification system. Through an examination of race in contemporary Australian media discourses and through Australia’s census categories, I explore what happens to race and racism when race outside of Aboriginality not officially measured.