Making Chinese Australia:
Urban Elites, Newspapers and the Formation of Chinese-Australian Identity, 1892–1912
By Mei-fen Kuo
Shortlisted for the W K Hancock Prize 2014
“Making Chinese Australia is a landmark study, not only in Chinese-Australian history, but in Australian history more generally. It also makes a substantial contribution to the transnational history of the Chinese diaspora across the Pacific.”
— Marilyn Lake, The Journal of Asian Studies (2015) 74, pp 728–729.
‘A landmark work marking the arrival of this field … The best book ever written on the history of Chinese Australia.’
— Professor John Fitzgerald
‘Making Chinese Australia is a significant achievement in the field of Chinese-Australian history… and it should proudly take its place alongside John Fitzgerald’s Big White Lie (UNSW Press, 2007) as one of the new classic texts on Chinese-Australian history.’ [Read the full review]
— Kate Bagnall, Inside Story
‘The attention to detail, collection and translation of material otherwise inaccessible for many Australians is brilliant historiographical practice…
Making Chinese Australia is an invaluable work for all with an interest in Australian History and would be particularly valuable in support of VCE Australian History Unit 3.’
— Phillip O’Brien, Agora, HTAV, Issue 4, 2014
‘Mei-Fen Kuo and Monash University Publishing are to be commended for opening up new horizons for understanding how this major community was able not just to struggle but to prosper, through difficult years.’
—James Jupp, Pacific Affairs Volume 89, Issue 1
The Chinese press was the largest foreign-language press in Sydney over the late nineteenth century, and the only foreign-language press to publish without interruption from the 1890s into the 1920s. Yet the story of Chinese-language newspapers during this period of emerging Australian and Chinese nationalism has, until now, been left untold. Beginning with a review of an especially bitter conflict that split the Sydney Chinese community in 1892, and ending two decades later with the establishment of the earliest political alliance between Chinese-Australian elites in Sydney and Melbourne, established to support the building of the Re-booklic of China, Making Chinese Australia demonstrates how the interpretations and narratives of journalists and editors of Chinese-Australian newspapers played a powerful role in shaping the social identities and historical awareness of Chinese Australians. In the process of relating this important narrative, Mei-fen Kuo employs relevant new historical and philosophical frameworks to initiate a dialogue between Chinese-Australian history and international and diasporic Chinese studies.
Dr Mei-fen Kuo is a Research Fellow at Asia-Pacific Center for Social Investment and Philanthropy in Swinburne University of Technology. Prior to this she was an Australian Post-doctoral Fellow in the School of Social Science at La Trobe University as a part of a Linkage grant entitled ‘Unlocking Australia’s Chinese Archives: the political and social experience of the Chinese Australian community, 1909 to 1939’. She brings her polished bilingual research skills to make a significant contribution to research on Australian history through her pioneering study of Chinese Australians from a diasporic perspective. Her research adds much depth to knowledge of the Chinese-Australian urban elite in a transnational setting. It has helped promote scholarship on Chinese Australian history by forging a dialogue between international and diasporic Chinese studies.
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