‘Race, service, citizenship’: talk by Alistair Kennedy

The next event from the Chinese Australian Historical Society is a talk from Alistair Kennedy, BA (Hons) MA Dip Ch (HK), MBE from the School of History, ANU.

Race, Service, Citizenship: White Australia’s attitudes to Chinese-Australians between the two World Wars

When: Saturday 31st July 2010
Time: 2pm
Where: Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney (near Bathurst Street).

This paper represents work in progress on Alistair’s PhD thesis. It examines how the experience of war service in the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) affected the lives of Chinese-Australians. It covers the consequences of the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act, the Dictation Test and the white working class exclusion discrimination on Chinese workers. The Chinese-Australian population fell rapidly from more than 88,000 in the 1880s to 25,000 at the 1911 census. In 1914, there were fewer than 2,000 Chinese-Australian males of military age with British citizenship and, of these, the racially intolerant Defence Acts excluded many who could not prove they were of ‘substantially European origin or descent’. Yet many of these Chinese-Australians did enlist.

Apart from the indigenous peoples, Australian social historians have seldom examined White Australia’s treatment of ethnic minorities between the wars. This paper argues that for one such minority, Chinese-Australians, the experience of military service in World War 1 was a positive one.

Cost: $10 members; $15 non members
Bookings: Anna Lee, Treasurer. Pay at the door.
Email: annalee@workready.com.au
Phone: 9519 7436 or text 0412 334 398
Committee: Robert Ho, King Fong, Clifford To, Frederick Leung, Arthur Lock Chang, Anna Lee