ACIAC Seminar: Mirroring the Past: Chinese-Australia in Historical Perspective

Michael seminar home


Date: Wednesday, 27 November, 2019

Time: 12.00 - 1.00 pm

Venue: EA.G.03, Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, Western Sydney University Parramatta South campus

FREE. Limited seats. Please RSVP HERE (opens in a new window) before 26 November, 2019.

Light lunch provided.


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.

Biographymichael headshot image

Dr Michael Williams is a graduate of Hong Kong University, a scholar of Chinese-Australian history and a founding member of the Chinese-Australian Historical Society. He is the author of Returning Home with Glory (HKU Press, 2018), which traces the history of peoples from south China’s Pearl River Delta around the Pacific Ports of Sydney, Hawaii and San Francisco. Michael has taught at Beijing Foreign Studies and Peking Universities and is currently an Adjunct Fellow at Western Sydney University. His current research includes the Dictation Test, early Chinese Opera in Australia and a history of the Chinese in Australia.