Rewriting the history of Chinese families in nineteenth-century Australia
The nineteenth-century Chinese population in Australia was made up mostly of men, drawing many commentators to the conclusion these men faced an absence of family life, resulting in prostitution, gambling, opium use and other so-called vices. Recent research has, however, expanded and complicated our knowledge of Chinese families in New South Wales and Victoria, particularly concerning the extent to which Chinese men and white Australian women formed intimate relationships. This article traces the origins of the misconceptions about Chinese families in nineteenth-century Australia, and considers how new directions in scholarship over the past decade are providing methods for enlarging our knowledge. It argues that instead of being oddities or exceptions, Chinese-European families were integral to the story of Australia's early Chinese communities.