Not Quite White: Lebanese and the White Australia Policy, 1880 to 1947 (ANNE MONSOUR)

                                           Not Quite White: Lebanese and the White Australia
After receiving Anne Monsour’s book Not Quite White to review, I put it on 
my bookshelf at work to read a little further down the track. Taking it home 
one day a few weeks later, I discovered I mistakenly had picked up the wrong 
book. I also had on the shelf a copy of a book by Matt Wray with the same 
main title, but the sub-title “white trash and the boundaries of whiteness.”1
Since I was not going to get to read Monsour’s book that evening, I flicked 
through Wray’s monograph instead. Though exploring a different topic – the 
emergence of the pejorative term “white trash” to describe a segment of the 
American population – there were sections of this book, that I discovered 
later, resonated with Monsour’s work. In setting out the theoretical 
framework for his argument Wary returns to the eugenics and scientific 
material of the late nineteenth century, where the “classifying impulse” was 
on show. 2 Included in his book are illustrations of two popular racial 
classification schemes of the time. In both of the schema, from the 1895 Funk 
and Wagnall Standard Dictionary of the English Language, Syrians appear 
classified – both in a table and through images – as “EurAfrican 
(Caucasian).” Wray uses these illustrations to establish his argument about 
boundaries and notes “[the] unstable and inconstant quality of boundaries 
directs our attention to the social interactions among those on either side of 
the boundary and to the social interactions across the boundary.”3
Anne Monsour’s book is a detailed study of the shifting and sometime 
porous boundary that separated Lebanese Australians from other groups 
within the country. M…

Not Quite White: Lebanese and the White Australia  

ANNE MONSOUR, Not Quite White: Lebanese and the White Australia 
Policy, 1880 to 1947 (Brisbane: Post Pressed, 2010). Pp. 216. $45.65 paper. 
REVIEWED BY CATRIONA ELDER, Department of Sociology and Social 
Policy, University of Sydney, email: [email protected] 

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