Category: Conferences

Conference announcement: Rediscovered Past

Rediscovered Past: Valuing Chinese roles across the north

13—14 February 2010

Organised by Chinese Heritage in Northern Australia Inc. (CHINA Inc.)

Hides Hotel, Lake Street, Cairns, QLD, 4870

Following the success of the previous Rediscovered Past conferences held in Cairns in 2006 and 2008, the organisers are pleased to announce a third conference to be held in 2010. Again this will be a ‘no fuss’ multidisciplinary event run over two days and will be open to contributions from all fields of Chinese Australian studies – including history, archaeology, heritage management, law, literature, linguistics, art, and library science. The conference will maintain the previous casual, convivial atmosphere that everybody has enjoyed, and the theme will focus on Chinese contributions to the development of northern Australia.

Chinese have been part of this region for several centuries, starting with sporadic visits by traders and fishermen and culminating in the large scale immigration of miners, workers and business people during the 19th century. From pioneering tropical agriculture to bringing essential goods and services to remote towns, from generating wealth for the colonies to galvanising debate about social exclusion and ‘white Australia’, their roles in shaping the social, economic and political life of the region have been critical on many levels. Yet these roles have been largely ignored in the writing of history, and so this conference will present fresh, exciting new research that establishes greater understanding and a true valuing of Chinese Australian heritage.

Details are available on the CHINA Inc. website:

http://chinainc.yolasite.com/rediscovered-past-conference-2010.php

‘A legacy of White Australia’

You can read ‘A legacy of White Australia’, the paper I gave at the Fourth International Conference of Institutes & Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies in Guangzhou in May, which has been published on the National Archives of Australia website.

A large part of the paper is about the Poon Gooey deportation case from 1910–13. The photo of the family below was published in the Daily Telegraph on 12 May 1913, shortly before the famiily left Australia. The newspaper article was clipped and placed on the wonderfully rich Department of External Affairs file about the case (NAA: A1, 1913/9139).

Revisiting the Poon Gooeys

In a few weeks I’m heading off to China for the first time two and a half years. I’m going to be doing some ‘fieldwork’, visiting the ancestral homes of some of the people I’m writing about at the moment, as well as giving a paper at the Fourth International Conference of Institutes & Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies (What a mouthful! Here’s a link to the conference website.) The conference is being held at Jinan University and looks to be bringing together a somewhat curious mix of people.

I’m going to be talking about the National Archives’ records on Chinese Australia (see abstract below), and I’ve decided to use the ‘Poon Gooey incident’ of 1911-13 as a case study and an excuse to show off some lovely records. I’ve been doing a little bit of digging, and have a great naturalisation certificate for Poon Gooey’s uncle amongst other things.

I’ve also found a name that I’m happy to call Mrs Poon Gooey (it doesn’t seem quite right that she’s at the heart of the story and doesn’t even get to be called anything but Mrs Poon Gooey!) – she was Ham See or Ham Hop. And I’ve been able to confirm that Poon Gooey was Sze Yap, from Kaiping in fact. I had guessed from Ham See’s name that they were Sze Yap people, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.

My digging has taken me in directions it shouldn’t and I’ve had to be very strict not to get distracted. I could have wasted a lot of time investigating the family of Poon Gooey’s brother, Poon See. He married Ada Wing Yen (nee Siakew), a widow with five children, in 1915. They had several kids of their own, too, and lived at Horsham, Victoria.

I will put up a version of my paper after the conference, but in the meantime, here’s the abstract.

A legacy of ‘White Australia’: Records about Chinese Australians in the National Archives of Australia

The administration of Australia’s Immigration Restriction Act 1901, together with other parts of the ‘White Australia Policy’, left a rich and diverse body of records, now held by the National Archives of Australia. The records document many aspects of the lives of Chinese Australians, such as immigration, travel, business enterprises, political activities and community life. The records give a vivid picture of the experiences of both immigrant and Australian-born Chinese, of individuals, families and communities in Australia and of their ongoing ties to China.

Using specific case studies, this paper will discuss the National Archives of Australia’s holdings on Chinese Australians, particularly those created in the administration of the White Australia Policy. Over the past decade, the National Archives has made its Chinese records increasingly accessible through the publication of two research guides and by ongoing descriptive and digitisation projects. Many thousands of individual records are now available to view through the Archives’ collection database, RecordSearch, providing unprecedented online access.

Greater access to the records hopefully also means greater use. The paper will further explore how the records, a legacy of the discrimination and marginalisation of the ‘White Australia’ years, can be reclaimed by researchers today, to both recover the lives of Chinese Australians in the past, and to provide a more nuanced understanding of the contradictions and complications of Australia’s response to its Chinese population.

Call for papers – Dragon Tails, October 2009

Dragon Tails: Re-interpreting Chinese-Australian Heritage
9-11 October 2009
Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, Victoria

Venue

Sovereign Hill Museums Association, Ballarat, Victoria (www.sovereignhill.com.au)

Conference outline

In 1984, noted historian Jennifer Cushman challenged researchers to move beyond the prevalent one-dimensional approach to understanding the Chinese presence in Australia—an approach that was primarily concerned with examining Australia’s attitudes towards the Chinese. In taking up this challenge, and seeking to understand the Chinese ‘on their own terms’, researchers have uncovered new sources and applied inter-disciplinary approaches to reveal the complex picture of Chinese community cultures, identities and race relations in Australia.

While we would no longer say that the history of the Chinese in Australia is hidden or neglected, where do these new stories fit within the wider narrative of Australian history? What are the challenges involved in communicating and interpreting these new perspectives, with their inherent complexity and contradictions, to broader audiences? One of the major aims of this conference is to bring together these new historical understandings about early Chinese-Australians, and consider their place within broader histories of Australia and the Chinese diaspora. Another aim is to create a forum for how these stories might be interpreted in the classroom, and at cultural heritage sites and museums.

This conference welcomes papers from a wide range of disciplines, including history, archeology, tourism, cultural studies, education, and museum/heritage studies.

We are particularly interested in work that:

  • Tells about early Chinese-Australian history from Chinese-Australian perspectives.
  • Discusses Chinese-Australian heritage/history within broader perspectives (e.g. Australian, Chinese, comparative, and/or transnational).
  • Draws on new resources to tell new stories.
  • Focuses on intercolonial (Northern Territory and Queensland) and/or trans-Tasman connections.

Themes

  • Chinese goldseekers and their legacy
  • Developments and issues for Chinese-Australian heritage tourism (regional and urban)
  • Everyday life and culture for early Chinese-Australians
  • Communicating Chinese-Australian heritage (e.g. education, multimedia, internet technology)
  • Early Chinese-Australian formations of politics, identity and citizenship
  • Interrogating Chinese-Australian historiography and material culture
  • Perspectives on heritage Chinese precincts
  • Mapping historical connections between Asia and Australia
  • Biographies and oral histories of Chinese-Australian ‘pioneers’
  • Creative work that re-interprets Chinese-Australian history

Presentations

Papers – Standard session presentations should be 20 mins long (with 10 mins allowed for question time).
Panels – We’d welcome panel submissions. Our suggested formats for the panels are:
(a) 3 x 20 min papers with a coherent theme, or
(b) Up to 5 speakers on a discussion panel (approx 10 mins each, with at least 40 mins for discussion)

Abstracts (max 200 words), with speakers’ full contact details and short biographical notes (max 100 words) should be sent to keirreeves@iprimus.com.au BY MONDAY 18 MAY 2009.

Enquiries about the conference should be directed to keirreeves@iprimus.com.au.