Subjects and Aliens

Subjects and Aliens

Histories of Nationality, Law and Belonging in Australia and New Zealand

Edited by: Kate Bagnall orcid, Peter Prince

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Subjects and Aliens confronts the problematic history of belonging in Australia and New Zealand. In both countries, race has often been more important than the law in determining who is considered ‘one of us’.

Each chapter in the collection highlights the lived experiences of people who negotiated laws and policies relating to nationality and citizenship rights in twentieth-century Australasia, including Chinese Australians enlisting during the First World War, Dalmatian gum-diggers turned farmers in New Zealand, Indians in 1920s Australia arguing for their citizenship rights, and Australian women who lost their nationality after marrying non-British subjects.

The book also considers how the legal belonging—and accompanying rights and protections—of First Nations people has been denied, despite the High Court of Australia’s recent assertion (in the landmark Love & Thoms case of 2020) that Aboriginal people have never been considered ‘aliens’ or ‘foreigners’ since 1788. The experiences of world-famous artist Albert Namatjira, and of those made to apply for ‘certificates of citizenship’ under Western Australian law, suggest otherwise.

Subjects and Aliens demonstrates how people who legally belonged were denied rights and protections as citizens through the actions of those who created, administered and interpreted the law across the twentieth century, and how the legal ramifications of those actions can still be felt today.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Aug 2023
ANU Press
Arts & Humanities: History; Law

PDF Chapters

Subjects and Aliens »

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  1. Australia’s ‘Alien Races’ Meet New Zealand’s ‘Race Aliens’ (PDF 166 KB)Peter Prince and Kate Bagnall doi
  2. ‘Not Substantially of European Origin or Descent’: How Race Came to Shape Australian Enlistment during World War I (PDF 187 KB)Sophie Couchman doi
  3. Freedom and Freehold: Intergenerational Land Ownership by Chinese and Dalmatian Farming Families in New Zealand (PDF 915 KB)Jane McCabe doi
  4. The ‘Silver-Tongued Orator’ Advocates for Australian Indians: Srinivasa Sastri’s Tour of Australia in 1922 (PDF 182 KB)Margaret Allen doi
  5. ‘Australian Is an Alien’: The Position of Australian Women Married to ‘Aliens’, 1920–49 (PDF 216 KB)Emma Bellino doi
  6. ‘Our Natives Have No Constitutional Right to Equal Privileges with White People’ Western Australia’s Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act 1944 (PDF 652 KB)Peter Prince doi
  7. Was Namatjira an Alien? The High Court’s Flawed History of Belonging in Australia (PDF 1.3 MB)Peter Prince doi

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