We tend to think of Australia as having a largely European population in the years dominated by the White Australia policy. But the truth is Chinese-Australians have been contributing to our national character since the 1850s.
Women – and women from non-European backgrounds in particular – have often been excluded from both research and our historical records thanks to patriarchal attitudes to women’s work. And the hidden histories of Chinese-Australian women during the era of the White Australia policy – many of whom are still alive today – have a lot to tell us about the realities of migration and Australian culture.
Dallas Rogers speaks with the University of Western Sydney’s Alanna Kamp about her research on the forgotten lives of Chinese-Australian women in the 20th century, the silence in our census records about their experiences, and why it matters for our understanding of Australia’s national identity.
Authors: Dallas Rogers, Lecturer in Urban Studies, Western Sydney University