Abstract: Research of migration and diasporas has usually been done on a national or ethnic basis in isolation. This is especially so for that by Chinese and Italian people to the U.S. and Australia. This paper explores the possible benefits of historical comparison using as an example the return migration links in the histories of the movements of people from China and Italy to the two white settler nations of the U.S. and Australia in the late 19th and early 20th century. The development of patterns of organisation and communication linking families and homelands are compared along family, social, legal, economic, and cultural avenues that include such elements as remittances, chain migration, agents, loans, donations, publications, trade, border restrictions, regular home visits and even the return of the bones of the dead. Impacts on the home villages, the role of those left behind, and inter-generational divergences are also considered. This comparison also leads to considerations of differences in how these two white settler nations treated those on each side of a nominally white/non-white or European/non- European divide. A difference, it is argued, that continues today in how historians of Australia and the United States treat these two diasporas, and which can be better understood, this paper concludes, through comparative analysis.
Keywords: Chinese-Australian; Chinese; immigration restriction; White Australia; Italy; Australia; United States; migration, diaspora; China; villages; transnationalism