2023 in review

My life over the past 18 months has been radically shaped by the effects of long COVID.

Kate Bagnall sitting at a table in a restaurant holding a glass of sparkling wine in one hand and a copy of the book 'Subjects and Aliens' in the other
At my very low-key lunch celebration of the publication of ‘Subjects and Aliens’, Hobart, 21 September 2023

I never fully recovered following my initial COVID-19 infection in July 2022, which was followed by two subsequent viral infections in August and September 2022, and I reduced my work hours in early 2023 me to help me ‘cope’ with my ongoing fatigue. I had COVID-19 a second time in April this year and, after the acute infection passed, my long COVID symptoms worsened, eventually resulting in a period of severe ill-health in late August which resulted in 6 weeks off work.

During this time off, I came to understand more about the nature of my illness better, including by reading The Long Covid Handbook, by Gez Medinger and Danny Altmann. I also have found science journalist Ed Yong’s writing on long COVID to be some of the best there is, if you want to understand more about it all, including the struggles ‘long haulers’ like me face.

Reflecting on what led me to this severe long COVID crash, I came to understand how the demands of academic life were not allowing me the time and space to begin to feel well again. With the support of my GP, I have now reduced my work hours to four mornings per week, and I have become very strict in policing my boundaries. This means that many, many things that I would like to be doing have necessarily been put aside – perhaps for now, perhaps forever. One of those things is my book on Chinese naturalisation, which at present I just don’t have the physical or mental capacity to contemplate. I am also stepping back from my role as coordinator of the Family History program at UTAS in 2024.

My long COVID symptoms include fatigue, post-exertional malaise (PEM), cognitive dysfunction (‘brain fog’, including issues with memory, word recall and verbal processing), orthostatic intolerance (including inability to stand for more than a few minutes and lightheadedness), exercise intolerance, insomnia, muscle aches and weakness, autonomic dysfunction, tinnitus, and more. Some days are better than others, but my symptoms are always worse when I do not pace myself and get sufficient rest, or when I am even remotely stressed. Alongside these physical symptoms have come a whole gamut of emotions – particularly grief and guilt about all the things I cannot do, but a lot of sadness, anger, frustration and boredom, too.

While my symptoms are not as bad as many with long COVID, and I’m not currently bedbound or housebound, my world has now shrunk very small. And every day is a tiresome balancing act of things that must be done, things that I’d like to do, and things that my body can cope with.

So, with all that said, I look at the list that follows with some amazement – how have I have managed to do all of this? (See my point above re the punishing demands of academic life.) Next year will necessarily be different, and I’m quite looking forward to that.

Things I’ve done in 2023

Course coordination of the UTAS Diploma of Family History and the Undergraduate Certificate in Family History, including course administration, marketing, student recruitment, and outreach work, such as:

  • Judge, Lilian Watson Family History Award, Tasmanian Family History Society
  • Judge, UTAS Society of Australian Genealogists Scholarship (for study in the Diploma of Family History)
  • Judge, UTAS Genealogical Society of Victoria Scholarship (for study in the Diploma of Family History)
  • UTAS Family History Referencing Guide
  • UTAS Family History Newsletter, distributed to UTAS Family History students monthly
  • Hosting visit by Professor Melanie Méthot (University of Alberta), February 2023
  • Radio interview with Mel Bush, about studying Family History at UTAS, ABC Breakfast (Hobart, 30 June 2023

Unit coordination and tutoring in HAA108 Migrant Families and HAA003 Introduction to Family History

Preparation and delivery of learning materials (‘lectures’) for 5 weeks of HTA206 Australian History in a Global Context

Preparation of my new staff profile (still a work in progress): https://discover.utas.edu.au/Kate.Bagnall

Everyday Heritage Linkage project, including research administration, team meetings, our conference and workshops in Sydney in July, and research and planning for publications to come

PhD supervision, including primary supervision of Elizabeth Walsh at UTAS, and external supervision of Emma Bellino (University of Wollongong)

Peer review for ARC Discovery Projects Scheme, Manchester University Press (book proposal), International Journal of Heritage Studies (article)

Things I haven’t done in 2023

I declined a whole heap of invitations, including to review a book manuscript (HKU Press), journal articles (Ethnic and Racial Studies; Race and Social Problems; History Australia) and ARC Discovery Projects Scheme applications; media interviews and to be interviewed for a PhD project; to examine postgraduate theses (MRes at Macquarie University, PhD at James Cook University); to present my work at conferences and give public talks; and to contribute to publications (including book review for History Australia; book review for Asian Studies Review).

Research publications

‘Cartoonlets’ from ‘The Bulletin’, 20 June 1896, p 7, including one (bottom left) that refers to the use of identification photography in Chinese immigration administration in New Zealand. This was the subject of Sophie Couchman and my 2023 article in ‘Australian Historical Studies’.

Kate Bagnall and Peter Prince (eds), Subjects and Aliens: Histories of Nationality, Law and Belonging in Australia and New Zealand, ANU Press, Canberra, 2023, http://doi.org/10.22459/SA.2023.

Peter Prince and Kate Bagnall, ‘Australia’s “alien races” meet New Zealand’s “race aliens”’, in Kate Bagnall and Peter Prince (eds), Subjects and Aliens: Histories of Nationality, Law and Belonging in Australia and New Zealand, ANU Press, Canberra, 2023, https://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n11134/pdf/ch01.pdf.

Sophie Couchman and Kate Bagnall, ‘Identification photography and the surveillance of Chinese mobility in Colonial Australasia’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 299–329, https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2022.2162094.


Blog posts and other publications

2023 in review, 31 December 2023

Family history research worksheets, 12 June 2023

Maisie Fook: ‘A Chinese, born and living in White Australia’, 26 May 2023

A naturalized Chinese Tasmanian: Ah One from Hobart, 20 February 2023

Remembering Coohey Fue, 3 January 2023 (Everyday Heritage)

‘Studying Family History at the University of Tasmania’, The Ancestral Searcher (Family History ACT), vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 64–66


‘Chinese Australian Family History Research’, Chinese Australian Research Interest Group, Society of Australian Genealogists, 25 March 2023, via Zoom

‘Chinese Australian Family History Research’, Members’ Meeting, Family History ACT, 4 July 2023, via Zoom

Uncovering the stories of Chinese Australian families‘, National Family History Month 2023, Libraries Tasmania (Hobart), 8 August 2023

Review of my work

Liew, Zhen Hao, ‘Julia T. Martínez, Kate Bagnall, eds. Locating Chinese Women: Historical Mobility between China and Australia. Crossing Seas. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2021. viii + 277 pp. $72.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-988-8528-61-5′, H-Migration, November 2023, https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=58708.

Citations to my work

Arnold, Taylor and Lauren Tilton, Distant Viewing: Computational Exploration of Digital Images, MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 2023, https://direct.mit.edu/books/oa-monograph/5674/Distant-ViewingComputational-Exploration-of.

Bellanta, Melissa and Lorinda Cramer, ‘The comfort of things in White Australia: Male immigrants, race and the three-piece suit, c.1901–39′, Australian Historical Studies, 2023, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2022.2161587.

Berthiot, Marine, ‘Representations of girlhood trauma in Aotearoa, New Zealand literature written by women’, PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2023, https://hdl.handle.net/1842/39741.

Byrne, Denis, Ien Ang, and Phillip Mar (eds), Heritage and History in the China-Australia Migration Corridor, Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong, 2023 – my work is cited in the following chapters:

Ang, Ien and Denis Byrne, ‘Introduction’, pp. 1–24

Williams, Michael, ‘Villages of the Fragrant Hills’, pp. 21–51

Byrne, Denis, ‘A heritage of lifelines in the migration corridor’, pp. 52–74

Ang, Ien, ‘(Un)making transnational identities: migration and Chineseness’, pp. 75–105

Wong, Alexandra, ‘Diaspora tourism and homeland travel’, pp. 106–132

Byrne, Denis, ‘Making heritage in the migration corridor’, pp. 240–262.

Cotton, James, ‘Chungking follies: The supporting case of the Chungking Legation, 1941–42’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 109, part 2, December 2023, pp. 187–209.

Cutter, Nat, Rachel Fensham and Tyne Daile Sumner, ‘The slipperiness of name: Biography and gender in Australian cultural databases’, Gender & History, 118, https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0424.12699.

Indelicato, Maria Elena Indelicato, ‘Neither black nor white: Colonial myths, Irish women, and Chinese men’s quest for respectability, Interventions, vol. 25, no. 4, 2023, pp. 448–467, https://doi.org/10.1080/1369801X.2022.2099946.

Jones, Mike and Alana Piper, ‘Digital History: A state of the field review essay’, Australian Historical Studies, 2023, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2023.2267586.

Kong, Vivian, Multiracial Britishness: Global Networks in Hong Kong, 1910–45, Cambridge University Press, 2023.

Marston-Pattison, Aaron, ‘Un-Australian? White Australia’s visions of identity and the racialisation of the Pacific War’, Australian Historical Studies, 2023, pp. 1–19.

Merrell, L. Y, Settler Colonial Fatherhood in New South Wales and Ontario during the Long Nineteenth Century, PhD thesis, Indiana University, 2023. (Retrieved from ProQuest: https://www.proquest.com/dissertations-theses/settler-colonial-fatherhood-new-south-wales/docview/2846778547/se-2).

Rerceretnam, Marc Sebastian, ‘Quong Tart’s neighbours: Cycling around the boundaries of exclusion and racism, 1880s-1900s’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 109, part 2, December 2023, pp. 141–164.

Rizvi, Fazal, ‘China-Australia tensions and international higher education’, Beijing International Review of Education, vol. 4, no. 4, 2023, pp. 610–628, https://doi.org/10.1163/25902539-04040007.

Simmonds, Alecia, Courting: An Intimate History of Love and the Law, La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc., Melbourne, 2023.

Smith, Evan, ‘The Bureaucratic Limits of a National Security Agenda: The Winding Road of Alien Registration in Interwar Australia’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 54, no. 1, 2023, pp. 24–43, https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2022.2125544.

Tarchi, Andrea, Building the Intimate Boundaries of the Nation: The Regulation of Mixed Intimacies in Colonial Libya and the Construction of Italian Whiteness (1911–1942), PhD thesis, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 2023, https://doi.org/10.5463/thesis.93.

Tao, Yu, Benjamin Smith, Petra Mosmann, Kaylene Poon, and Betty Walker, ‘Searching for Moon Chow: A joint journey’, Life Writing, vol. 20, no. 1, 2023, pp. 217–236.

Thatcher, Louise, ‘Maritime workers, desertion, racism, and labour mobility in early 20th-century Australia’, Australian Studies Journal / Zeitschrift für Australienstudien, vol. 37, 2023, pp. 13–29, https://doi.org/10.35515/zfa/asj.37/2023.02.

Xiong, Xiao, Haunting in Chinese-Australian Writing, Springer Nature Singapore, Germany, 2023.

Zhang, Jiasheng and Baoqi Lin, ‘Images of Chinese in Australian nationalist literature’, Neohelicon, 2023, pp. 1–16.


  1. Helene Shepherd says:

    Sorry to hear that you have been unwell for so long. Hopefully with reducing your working hours and your commitments will allow you plenty of recovery time. Having my case of COVID only this month, I can understand how you feel. Take care of you and rest up.

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