Call for papers – Dragon Tails, October 2009

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


Sovereign Hill Museums Association, Ballarat, Victoria (

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.


  • 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


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 BY MONDAY 18 MAY 2009.

Enquiries about the conference should be directed to

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