This article traces a specific moment when Castellorizian settlers intersected with the racialised and labour-based politics of immigration restriction in the Northern Territory, between 1916 and 1920. Through an examination of a contested labour issue, a political immigration debate and a racialist newspaper dispute, this history aims to demonstrate how a group of ethnically Greek labourers from the Dodecanese island of Castellorizo ushered in a distinctive form of “white” racial preferencing. By examining how Castellorizian labourers were viewed by unionists, politicians and public commentators, this article suggests that confusing, and, at times, porous, national and racial classifications—such as Greek and Turk, and white and Asiatic—predisposed how these distinctive settlers could engage with the society in which they lived. In direct opposition to being classified as, and compared to, Asians, Castellorizians articulated their own distinct attachments to Australia and the white race. An investigation into their articulations offers us a nuanced reading into the making and fluidity of white racial consciousness in Australia. By examining the precarious positioning and self-articulations of Castellorizians in the Northern Territory, we can begin to reflect on how the racialised and labour-based politics of immigration restriction impacted on the making of an early Greek-Australian racial consciousness.
- Northern Territory