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Memory and meaning in the search for Chinese Australian families


Couchman, S and Bagnall, K, Memory and meaning in the search for Chinese Australian families, Remembering migration: oral histories and heritage in Australia, Palgrave Macmillan, Darian-Smith Kate, Hamilton Paula (ed), Cham, Switzerland, pp. 357. ISBN 978-3-030-17750-8 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]

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Available from 12 August 2021

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Copyright 2019 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1007/978-3-030-17751-5_22


Over the past twenty-five years there has been tremendous interest in researching Chinese Australian family history. This includes documenting the experiences of Chinese migrants and their descendants in Australia from the nineteenth century onwards, as well as seeking to understand their pre-migration lives in China and patterns of return migration. For many Chinese Australian family historians, however, there remains a major difficulty in tracing their Chinese ancestry – not knowing their ancestor’s name in Chinese or their precise place of origin beyond the ubiquitous ‘Canton’. This essay discusses the endeavours of family historians to uncover their Cantonese roots, including by visiting the qiaoxiang (home village) districts of the Pearl River Delta region in Guangdong province. We reflect on this ‘roots tourism’ and the practice of personal memory-making in the wake of national and familial forgetting.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:Chinese-Australian history, family history, roots tourism
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Bagnall, K (Dr Kate Bagnall)
ID Code:138166
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2020-03-26
Last Modified:2020-04-08

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