Bringing the Chinese into Australian history: a 25-year collective endeavour – Melbourne Chinese Studies Group

Another Melbourne Chinese Studies Group talk that I wish I could attend!

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

Topic: Bringing the Chinese into Australian history: a 25-year collective endeavour

Speaker: Paul Macgregor

The field of Chinese Australian historical research over the last 25 years has been remarkably fertile and diverse. In my 15-year role as curator of Melbourne’s Chinese Museum, and then convenor of the Melbourne Chinese Studies Group, I have been highly involved in this exciting work. After hesitant starts in the 1980s, an active research network sprang into being from the early 1990s, drawing in academics, independent researchers, Chinese community members, family historians, archaeologists, heritage professionals and others. The level of enthusiasm generated through this network has led to much highly fruitful cross-disciplinary achievement, with, for instance, a score of national and international conferences, several major research projects, dozens of PhD and masters theses, hundreds of hours of oral history recorded, a wide range of books and articles, as well as several Chinese museums and permanent exhibitions around the country. Yet, for all this exciting intellectual ferment, Chinese-Australian-ness remains in the margins of mainstream professional Australian historical discourse, and is still barely recognised in the general public’s historical consciousness. In reflecting on the research efforts of a quarter century, I will ask whether it is just a matter of time; do we need new research strategies; or are there fundamental blocks to a national recognition of the true Chinese-ness of Australia?

Paul Macgregor is an historian who is the convenor of the Melbourne Chinese Studies Group, and was the curator of Melbourne’s Museum of Chinese Australian History from 1990 to 2005. He is the editor of Histories of the Chinese in Australasia and the South Pacific (1995), and joint editor of both Chinese in Oceania (2002) and After the Rush: Regulation, Participation and Chinese Communities in Australia 1860-1940 (2004). He has organised three international conferences on the Chinese diaspora in Australasia, and has curated numerous exhibitions on the history and material heritage of Chinese Australians. He was also involved in the development of five major research projects: the Australia-China Oral History Project, the Thematic Survey of Sites of Chinese Australian History, the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation project, the Chinese Historical Images in Australia project, and the (Chinese on the) Mt Alexander Diggings Project.

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

Following seminar: This is the last Melbourne Chinese Studies Group seminar for 2010. The 2011 program will start on Friday, 4 March.

One comment

  1. Siting says:

    Hi Kate,

    I might be some 5 years too late. A search of ‘White Australia Policy’ eventually brought me here. Is the seminar of Melbourne Chinese Studies Group still running these days? I’m not from an academic background but certainly am interested in the topics being discussed in these seminars. I’m a Cantonese Chinese citizen and got my permanent residency a few years ago. Cheers.


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