A transnational Chinese-Australian family and the ‘New China’ – Melbourne Chinese Studies Group

Date: Friday, 6 August 2010
Time: 6pm
Admission: $2
Venue: Jenny Florence Room, 3rd Floor, Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets)

Topic: A transnational Chinese-Australian family and the ‘New China’

Speaker: Pauline Rule

Chung Mow Fung arrived in Melbourne in 1857 as a single man and left nearly forty years later in 1895 to settle in Hong Kong together with his Chinese wife and a large family of eight surviving colonial-born children. Twenty-five years of constructing a family in country Victoria had seen Chung Mow Fung and his wife Huish Huish negotiate between Australian and Chinese culture and between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ values especially in the area of gender roles. Settlement in the complicated liminal space of Anglo-Chinese Hong Kong allowed the family to identify to varying degrees with the different parts of their cultural formation. Their Australian background was acknowledged and their life-style was largely westernized but some members of the family became involved in the Republican era in the struggle to change aspects of Chinese culture, especially the role of women. This paper will examine how the Australian childhood of the family members played some part in how they, especially the women, lived out their adult lives while also retaining a strong commitment to their Chinese heritage.

Pauline Rule undertook postgraduate research on the Bengali intelligentsia and then the social history of Calcutta during the period of the British Raj. She worked in both the curriculum and assessment areas of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority and its prior manifestations. She has also researched and written extensively about the experiences of Irish women in nineteenth century Victoria. As part of this research she has examined marriages between Irish women and Chinese men in colonial Victoria and the outcomes for some of these families. This has lead to an interest in those Chinese women who came to Victoria in the colonial period.

Talk followed by an informal, inexpensive meal in a nearby Chinatown restaurant.

12 comments

  1. allan longstaff says:

    It has been about four years, sine I did some research about the family line of Chung Mow Fung, but the STAWELL Family History Centre maybe able to help with information if you are seeking.

    • Mow Fung (USA) says:

      Dear Allen,
      Thank you for your reply back and generous offer to help with researching the family. I will contact you soon for some assistance.
      Sincerely,
      I-e-sha

    • Alice Mackay says:

      I am very sorry, I missed your reply, Elena – it is exciting to hear from you. It was a long time ago now but many thanks for your offer to scan Ruby’s photo. I have one or two photos of her when she was in England, but they are not very clear. How interesting to find out that Uncle Jack stayed with you when he was in Australia!. I would very much like to share information about the Mow Fung family.
      Alice Mackay

  2. Alan Longstaff says:

    I am researching the family line of Chung Mow Fung, who could have be the Owner of the Junction Hotel in Deep Lead, and also looking for any Children who could have been at the Deep Lead School 1800+

    • Alice Mackay says:

      Dear Chung Ka Lok,
      Chung Mow Fung was also my great-grandfather. My father was Norman Mackay, son of Elizabeth Mow Fung and her second husband, John Mackay. My father came to England after WW2 (he was a POW in Japan for four years) and was followed by his brother, Jack, and his half sisters, Edwina and Irene. As a child, I knew Ruby Mow Fung, Chung Mow Fung’s youngest daughter, who spent the last few years of her life in England, but until recently I had very little information about the Chinese side of my family. I now know a lot more about them, and have realised that s number of other people, from all over the world, are researching the family. I know that each generation of your family has visited the area where our great-grandfather lived in Australia. Perhaps you have been in touch with Aisha, who wrote the first response to this post?
      I would very much like to find out more about the family and make a connection with the relatives I am only just discovering.

  3. I-e-sha says:

    Hello,
    Does anyone have more info on Mow Fung history? Or Elsie, one of his daughters?
    I have Photos of Elsie but no stories to go with the pictures. She was my great grandmother.
    Sincerely,
    I-e-sha

    • Francis says:

      Ages since you left your comment! I am one of the granddaughters of Elsie Mowfung Chung and her husband Bayard Lyon. I don’t have much info about her, but you’re welcome to give a shout.

      • Mow fung says:

        Dear Francis,
        Exciting reply, I am also one of the great granddaughters of Elsie Mowfung Chung and her husband Bayard Lyon. I would love to hear from you . You can contact me through Kate if you like.

        • Francis Lyon says:

          Hello Mow fung, I’m not sure how to contact you but would love to get in touch! I will try to contact you through Kate.

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