MSc (Econ), PhD (London)
(Deceased), 2022-04-11
Political science


23 August 1932 – 11 April 2022

James Jupp came to Australia twice as an immigrant, the first time in 1956 and the second in 1978. Like others who have come from elsewhere he brought fresh eyes to bear on Australian political institutions and played a major role in developing the study of Australian political parties, immigration politics and multiculturalism. 

James was born in Croydon, South London and took out degrees at the London School of Economics (LSE) before migrating to Australia for the first time and joining the University of Melbourne. Lecturing on Australian politics to large first-year classes made James acutely aware of the lack of a text book on Australian political parties. His pioneering work Australian Party Politics (Melbourne University Press) appeared in 1964 and after reprints in 1964 and 1966 a new edition was published in 1968. James became an international expert on the nature of political parties, publishing both general texts and chapters and articles on party systems in different parts of the world. Party politics continued to be a living subject for him and he became first secretary of the ‘Participants’ group, working to reform the Victorian Labor Party in the interests of the Whitlam revolution.

Living in North Carlton, close to the university, James also became very aware of his Greek and Italian neighbours. Already at the LSE, he had read the demographic work of Mick Borrie but in general there seemed little recognition of the policy implications of large-scale European immigration. In 1966 James published Arrivals and Departures, the first overall look at European migration. It highlighted the lack of fairness in the treatment of Australia’s migrant communities and was to have major policy influence, foreshadowing his later work.

However, James became restless and in 1966 he took up a position in the UK, at the University of York, where he was to stay for the next ten years, including a time as Departmental Chairman. In 1976 he set off for Canada, where he spent two years at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, becoming familiar with the multicultural policies of the Trudeau Government. 

In 1978, James migrated to Australia for a second time to take up a position at the Canberra College of Advanced Education and to marry Marian Sawer, whom he had met at a Political Studies Association conference in Nottingham. On arrival in Canberra, James was gratified by the distance Australia had travelled down the path of official multiculturalism. He became a key contributor to understanding multicultural policy as based on principles of access and equity in the provision of services. In 1981 Don Aitkin brought James to the Research School of Social Sciences at The Australian National University (ANU), to co-ordinate and foster the study of ethnic politics. James moved permanently to the ANU in 1984 becoming Director of the Centre for Immigration and Multicultural Studies (CIMS) in the years 1988–2010. During this time he became a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and then its Executive Director 1993–1995. 

A major academic project of this period was the Bicentenary Encyclopedia of the Australian People, launched by Prime Minister Bob Hawke at new Parliament House in 1988. Many had believed it to be an impossible task to bring together in one volume an authoritative account of the diverse communities making up the Australian population. As general editor, James brought together 250 authors to perform this task and succeeded in delivering it on time and with a remarkable lack of controversy. A second edition was prepared and published for the Centenary of Federation in 2001.

James was also increasingly caught up in policy research on settlement issues for organisations including the office of Multicultural Affairs and the Bureau of Immigration Research. He chaired the Hawke Government’s Committee of Review of Migrant and Multicultural Programs and Services – a wide-ranging review of the adequacy of services in meeting the needs of immigrants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The title of the Report, Don’t Settle for Less, said it all.

From the 1980s James was a central member of the multicultural policy community surrounding the Commonwealth and ACT governments and sat on a large number of advisory bodies. This did not impede his continuing research productivity and a stream of sole-authored and edited books. His books for Cambridge University Press alone included From White Australia to Woomera (two editions), The English in Australia and the Encyclopedia of Religion in Australia. 

From 2010–2020 James was a visiting fellow in Demography, where he published his last books – defending multiculturalism and analysing the continuous social engineering since 1788 of the origins, size and character of the Australian population. He was distressed by developments such as mandatory detention of asylum seekers who arrived by boat, seeing such policies as turning back the clock on the development of more humane policies between 1950 and 1990.

James was deeply honoured to be made a member of the Order of Australia in 2004 for his ‘service to the development of public policy in relation to immigration and multiculturalism, to education, and in the recording of Australian history’. He was a towering figure in developing the study of Australian immigration politics and in promoting more equitable settlement policies.

Written by Marian Sawer

  • James Jupp (2004) The English in Australia. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
  • James Jupp (2002) From White Australia to Woomera. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
  • James Jupp (ed) (2001) The Australian People. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
  • James Jupp (2000) Ethnic and Immigration Aspects, In Howard's Agenda. Marian Simms and John Warhurst (eds.). St Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press.
  • James Jupp (2000) Immigrant Society, In The Australian Legend and its Discontents. Richard Nile (eds.). St Lucias, Queensland: University of Queensland Press.
  • James Jupp (2000) The ALP and the ethnic communities, In The Machine: Labor confronts the future. John Warhurst and Andrew Parkin (eds.). Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
  • James Jupp (1998) Immigration. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.