Confronting the "bulwark of white supremacy"

the African American challenge to White Australia, 1941-1945

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


African American interest and presence in Australia during the Pacific War was a significant, if largely forgotten aspect of a conflict in which racial and colonial issues loomed large. Linking domestic and international manifestations of white supremacy, Black leaders compared Australian racism to segregationist practices in the American South, and elsewhere. Arguing that the White Australia Policy contradicted the democratic principles for which the United States and its Allies claimed to be fighting, they condemned Australia as a “bulwark of white supremacy.” Yet, the African American critique of White Australia was marked by contradictions, as black Americans betrayed an underlying acceptance of many of the civilizationist assumptions embedded in European colonialism – including in Britain’s white Dominions. By examining neglected aspects of the twentieth-century transnational struggle against racism and colonialism, and exploring the complex intersection of race, nationality, and class which shaped that struggle, this paper develops our understandings of the emerging contest against white supremacy that was provoked by global war and the rising tide of anti-colonialism that transformed the post-war world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of African American History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Mar 2020


Bibliographical note

This article has just been accepted for publication.

The journal is published by the University of Chicago Press.


  • African American History
  • world war -- 1939-1945
  • Australian history

Cite this