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SEMINAR: Should we say sorry? An examination of the treatment of people of Chinese cultural heritage in Western Australia between 1820s and 1970s.

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Should we say sorry? An examination of the treatment of people of Chinese cultural heritage in Western Australia between 1820s and 1970s. Other events...
People of Chinese cultural heritage has been part of the history of Western Australia since the proclamation of the Swan River Colony. They in the past were subjected to certain policies, which were legal but arguably unjust in light of contemporary societal attitude towards equality and fairness. Such policies included the poll tax (also known as the “head tax”), tonnage restrictions, exclusion from goldfields, and the dictation test. The project intends to study the period from the beginning of British settlement to the time around the abolition of the White Australia Policy. Through a cross-disciplinary approach, the project intends to examine in detail, these policies and their impact on people of Chinese cultural heritage in Western Australia during that period.

People of Chinese cultural heritage were subjected to similar policies in other countries and other Australian states around the same time. In recent decades, many of these jurisdictions including New Zealand and Victoria have issued apologies for their past policies concerning their people of Chinese cultural heritage.

During the preliminary research of this project, it is apparent that there are ample literature on the people of Chinese cultural heritage and their experiences during the 1800s and 1900s in Western Australia. There are also an abundance of literature related to the apologies which have been made in the past. However, there is little evidence of any discussion on whether the policies of the governments of Western Australia towards its people of Chinese cultural heritage should be debated. From an academic point of view, it is of significance to address that.

It is worth noting that if there is ever going to be any public debate about this, such debate should be up to all West Australians and West Australians alone.

This project aims to, through a comparative approach, combine the studies of the history concerning the people of Chinese cultural heritage in Western Australia, the apologies delivered to people of Chinese cultural heritage in other jurisdictions for similar policies, and the apologies made to other groups of Australians to analyse whether an apology should or should not be made for its policies towards its people of Chinese cultural heritage in the past. It should always be remembered that this project is about examining whether or not a state apology is appropriate, not about finding ways to justify an apology.
Speaker(s) Pierre Yang
Location UWA Social Sciences building, room 2.63
Contact Flavia Bellieni Zimmermann <flavia.zimmermann@research.uwa.edu.au>
Start Tue, 27 Aug 2019 10:00
End Tue, 27 Aug 2019 11:00
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <ss@uwa.edu.au>
Last Updated Tue, 27 Aug 2019 10:35
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