This blog is written by Kate Bagnall (@baibi on Twitter). I’ve been interested in Australia’s historical connections to China since I first lived there fifteen years ago – when, by coincidence, I found myself living in the overseas Chinese homelands of the Pearl River Delta.
My historical research focuses on the lives of Australians of Chinese descent in both Australia and China, the administration of the White Australia Policy and the cultural heritage of Australia’s Chinese communities.
My doctoral research was the first major historical study of intimate relationships between Chinese men and white Australian women, while other of my work focuses on transnational Chinese Australian family and community histories.
I am further interested in using emerging technologies to uncover and understand the complex connections between China and Australia, particularly in tracing networks of clan and kinship over time and space.
My current projects include:
- Paper trails: Travels with Anglo-Chinese Australians, 1900–1939, supported by the National Archives of Australia’s Ian Maclean Award for 2012–13
- Invisible Australians: Living under the White Australia Policy with Tim Sherratt
- ‘Threads of Kinship’, a database of Chinese marriages and births in New South Wales to 1918
- research on the 1908 High Court case Potter v. Minahan, which includes finding out about the history of the Chinese at Indigo, Victoria and its connections to Shiquli village, Xinhui
- research on Ham Hop, the wife of Poon Gooey, and the history of other Chinese wives in Australia under exemption, 1900–1920
Publications – Peer-reviewed
‘Crossing oceans and cultures’, in Agnieszka Sobocinska and David Walker (eds.), Australia’s Asia: Reviewing Australia’s Asian Pasts, University of Western Australia Press, 2012.
‘Rewriting the history of Chinese families in nineteenth-century Australia’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 42, no. 1, March 2011, pp. 62–77.
‘A journey of love: Agnes Breuer’s sojourn in 1930s China’, in Desley Deacon, Penny Russell and Angela Woolacott (eds), Transnational Ties, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2008. Go to online version.
‘Vermin, hot showers and a shortage of trousers: Official visits to wartime internment camps’, in Ilma O’Brien and Mat Trinca (eds), Under Suspicion: Citizenship and Internment in Australia during the Second World War, National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra, 2008.
‘“He would be a Chinese still”: Negotiating boundaries of race, culture and identity in late nineteenth-century Australia’, in Sophie Couchman, John Fitzgerald and Paul Macgregor (eds), After the Rush: Regulation, Participation, and Chinese Communities in Australia 1860–1940 – Otherland Literary Journal, no. 9, 2004, pp. 153–70.
‘“I am nearly heartbroken about him”: Stories of Australian mothers’ separation from their ‘Chinese’ children’, History Australia, vol. 1, no. 1, December 2003, pp.30–40.
‘Across the threshold: White women and Chinese men in the White colonial imaginary’, Hecate, vol. 28, no. 2, 2002, pp. 9–29.
‘Invisible Australians‘, Asian Currents (The Asian Studies Association of Australia), April–May 2012, pp. 14–15.
‘That famous fighting family’, Inside History, issue 9, March–April 2012, pp. 37–40.
‘Celestials and barbarian girls’, Inside History, issue 5, pp. 42–4.
‘Aussie lad or Chinese scholar?’, Memento, issue 38, 2010, pp. 16–18. Also published online (pdf, 4mb).
A legacy of White Australia: Records about Chinese Australians in the National Archives, paper presented at the Fourth International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou China, National Archives of Australia website, June 2009.
Review of Manying Ip, Being Maori–Chinese: Mixed Identities, Auckland University Press, for Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 2008.
‘Finding Chinese family connections in the National Archives’, Australian Family Tree Connections, August 2005, pp. 25–29. Also published online.
‘“Repatriated to China June 1914”: How fifty-eight elderly Chinese men found their way home from Darwin’, Journal of Chinese Australia, issue 1, May 2005, www.purl.org/jca.
‘The Stretton Chinese banner’, Journal of Chinese Australia, issue 1, May 2005, www.purl.org/jca.
‘Digging deep: Sources for Chinese-Australian history in NSW’, Locality, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 4–12.
‘Two languages, two cultures, two homes’, Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website, www.chaf.lib.latrobe.edu.au.
I have also worked on these websites and publications in various capacities as researcher/writer/editor:
- Uncommon Lives (uncommonlives.naa.gov.au) – in particular Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda, Charles and Ruth Lane Poole and Muslim Journeys
- Documenting a Democracy (foundingdocs.gov.au)
- Australia’s Prime Ministers (primeministers.naa.gov.au)
- National Archives of Australia (naa.gov.au)
- An Ideal City? (idealcity.org.au)
- Family Journeys: Stories in the National Archives of Australia, National Archives of Australia, Canberra, 2008 and the online version
- Memory of a Nation (exhibition catalogue), National Archives of Australia, Canberra, 2007
- Keep It For the Future! How to Set Up Small Community Archives, National Archives of Australia, 2007
- Memento, magazine published by the National Archives of Australia
Selected conference papers and talks
‘Chinese fathers and their Australian families return to China, 1902–1940′, paper presented at the Visible Immigrants Seven workshop, University of Adelaide/Migration Museum, Adelaide, 14–15 December 2012.
‘ “I’m an Australian”: Anglo-Chinese and the Immigration Restriction Act in New South Wales, 1902–1920′, paper presented at Connections: Australian Historical Association 31st Annual Conference, University of Adelaide, 9–13 July 2012.
‘Paper trails: Anglo-Chinese Australians and the White Australia Policy’, paper presented at the Fifth WCILCOS International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies: Chinese through the Americas, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 16–19 May 2012.
‘ “Charity covereth a multitude of sins”: Destitute, neglected and deserted Anglo-Chinese children in Australia’, paper presented at the Australasian Social Welfare History Workshop, University of New South Wales, 18–19 February 2010.
‘A legacy of White Australia: Records about Chinese Australians in the National Archives of Australia’, paper presented at the Fourth International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China, 10 May 2009.
‘Finding a family connection to China’, talk presented at Stepping Ashore: How to Research Your Chinese Family History workshop, Chinese Australian Historical Society Inc., Sydney, 13 September 2008.
‘Exploring Chinese-Australian ancestral homes’, talk presented to the Chinese Women’s Association, Sydney, 14 June 2008.
‘ “I always wanted to return to Australia”: Transnational lives and national imperatives in the case of Potter v. Minahan (1908)’, paper presented at Moving Cultures, Shifting Identities: A conference about migration, connection, heritage and cultural memory, Flinders University, Adelaide, 3–5 December 2007.
‘Introduction to Chinese records in the National Archives’, talk presented to the Chinese Australian Historical Society Inc., National Archives of Australia, Canberra, 29 September 2007.
‘Home villages in China’, talk given at the Chinese Australian Historical Society’s Members’ Forum, Sydney, 21 July 2007.
‘In the repository, under the bed: Managing Chinese Australian documentary heritage’, paper presented at Tacking the Dragon: Chinese Australian Cultural Heritage National Workshop, Brisbane, 16–18 October 2006.
‘Journeys of love: Australian wives in China, 1885–1935’, paper presented at the Transnational Lives: Biography Across Boundaries conference, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, 27-28 July 2006.
‘Uncommon Lives in the National Archives: Biography, history and the records of government’, paper presented at the Australian Historical Association Conference, Australian National University, July 2006.
‘Experiences of Anglo-Chinese families in China’, paper presented at the Postgraduate Research in Australian History seminar, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney, 16 September 2005.
‘Going north to China as their wives: The experiences of Western wives in south China’, paper presented at the International Conference on Quong Tart and his Times, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 1-4 July 2004.
‘“I am nearly heartbroken about him”: Stories of Australian mothers’ separation from their “Chinese” children’, paper presented at the Australian Historical Association conference, Mildura, September 2003.
‘A trip through Taishan’, paper presented at the NSW History Week seminar on Clan Organisations in the Sydney Chinese Communities, Chinese Australian Historical Society, Sydney, 21 September 2003.
‘Ah Haih: One woman’s life in a Chinese village’, paper presented at the International Workshop on Researching the Homelands of Trans-Pacific Chinese, Chinese Australian Historical Society, Sydney, 13 July 2002.
‘Across the threshold: White women and Chinese hawkers in the white colonial imaginary’, paper presented at the Australia Historical Association Conference, Griffith University, Brisbane, 3-6 July 2002.
‘Comings and goings: Some cases from the files of the National Archives of Australia (Sydney)’, talk given to the Chinese Australian Family and Community History Group, National Archives of Australia, Sydney, 1 June 2001.
‘Chinese-Australian children in nineteenth-century New South Wales’, paper presented at the Australian Historical Association Conference, Adelaide University, 5-9 July 2000.
‘He would be a Chinese still: Negotiating boundaries of race, culture and identity in late nineteenth-century Australia’, paper presented at the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Conference, Chinese Museum, Melbourne, 1-2 July 2000.
‘Sex, protection or partnership? Chinese-European marriages in nineteenth-century New South Wales’, paper presented at the Workshop on the Chinese in Australian and New Zealand History, University of New South Wales, 11-13 February 2000.
‘The early history of the Chinese in Australia’, talk given at Zhuhai Radio and Television University, Zhuhai China, 20 November 1999.
Academic awards and financial support received
- Ian Maclean Award, National Archives of Australia, 2012–13
- Early Career Summer Fellow, Centre for Historical Research, National Museum of Australia, January–April 2009
- Australian Postgraduate Award with Stipend, University of Sydney, 1998—2002
- Full scholarship for six months of study at a Chinese university, Chinese Scholarship Centre, 2000
- Joan Allsop Grant-in-Aid, Department of History, University of Sydney, 2003
- Postgraduate Research Support Scheme, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney, 2002
- Joan Allsop Grant-in-Aid, Department of History, University of Sydney, 2000
- John Frazer Travelling Scholarship, University of Sydney, 1999
Other activities and memberships
Co-convenor of Dragon Tails 2011 – sources, language, approaches, the 2nd Australasian conference on overseas Chinese history and heritage, Chinese Museum, Melbourne, 11–14 November 2011
Organising committee member for Dragon Tails: Re-Interpreting Chinese-Australian Heritage conference, Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, 9–11 October 2009
Historical research consultancy for biography of LJ Hooker by Natalia Hooker
Radio interviews with ABC 666 Canberra and SBS Radio World View
Co-editor of the online Journal of Chinese Australia
Founding member of the Chinese Australian Historical Society Inc.
Reviewed manuscripts for Journal of Australian Colonial History and History Australia
Co-convenor of the Workshop on the Chinese in Australian and New Zealand History, University of New South Wales, 11–13 February 2000