ACIAC: Seminar: Mirroring the Past: Chinese- Australia in Historical Perspective
Chinese have been in Australia for over 200 years but these two centuries have seen very different peoples arriving and settling under the label “Chinese”. Cantonese, working-class, non-white, a weak China and on the fringe of national history are all characteristics of Chinese-Australia for its first 100 years. While much of the last 50 years can be characterised as Mandarin, middle class, multicultural, with a strong China.
This discussion compares Australia’s 19th and early 20th Century Chinese-Australian history with its post-1949 history. The purpose is to examine the role of a number of features of this history including white guilt, the impact of the growing strength of contemporary China, and questions of identity for members of the Chinese diaspora in Australia. The use of the past to serve the needs and desires of the present is a significant issue that also needs to be examined.