Labour History

Migrant Labour and Their “Capitalist Compatriots”: Towards a History of Ethnic Capitalism

Labour History (2021), 121, (1), 175–194.

Abstract

The relationship between migration and Australian capitalism has long been a topic of robust scholarly debate in sociology and economics. Researchers in those fields have highlighted how migration has left an indelible imprint on Australian capitalism. By contrast, Australian migration histories have given scant attention to the role ethnic groups played in Australian capitalism. This lack of attention is particularly curious in historical studies of Greek Australia given the significance of small business in facilitating migration and settlement. From Federation onwards, Greek ethnic capitalism - or, more precisely, the relations between Greek migrant labourers and their petite bourgeoisie employers - became a topic of media coverage. In fact, the relations between Greek workers and employers were so important that newspapers routinely reported on the subject. This article examines this media coverage, its racialist and criminalising connotations, and historical relevance. It concludes with some observations on how histories of capitalism can productively engage with the histories of ethnicisation.

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Author details

Piperoglou, Andonis