“Lindy Lee” by Greg Weight
(gelatin silver photograph, 1995)
Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Gift of Patrick Corrigan AM 2004.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.
Source: National Portrait Gallery online (here)

The special issue of Australian Historical Studies I co-edited with Keir Reeves is now out and about. The front cover of the issue features the artwork “Fire and Water” by Chinese Australian artist, Lindy Lee. We were very keen to have this kind of contemporary work appear on this issue as it reflected the content’s depth of past/present.

Lee’s artist statement at OzArts reads thus:

A first generation Chinese Australian, Lindy Lee’s work investigates issues of selfhood and identity. Her work embodies a dramatic visual language of bold colours and gestures often combined with photographic images from various sources. These photographs include portraits of Lee’s wider family, her travels to China, and Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. Informed by her study and practice of Zen buddhism, Lee’s work links east and west, joining body and spirit and connecting past with present.

It’s an unfortunate thing that most academic journals sport generic or free images on the cover. Many of these covers are ripped off when libraries compile their hard-bound volumes and – let’s face it – personal subscriptions never keep academic journals afloat. These days, hard-copy subcriptions don’t cut it either; it’s e-copies all the way. The free images found on many an historical journal are sourced from old newspapers or magazines, and there’s nothing wrong with them per se. They’re worthy, important, can be fascinating, etc. The simple fact is that they’re most often black and white. Having a full colour option on the cover makes a world of difference.

Because we had the support to make this special issue about Chinese Australian history a little bit special, Keir and I decided that licensing the use of Lee’s work was money well spent. Through her art, the connections between creative community, cultural heritage, and personal/national histories are interwoven.

The issue itself is a result of the inaugural ‘Dragon Tails’ conference in Ballarat in 2009. The second conference is slated for 11-13 November this year (check out the official ‘Dragon Tails’ website).

Back to the special issue itself, below is the line-up that you’ll find inside. Note that there are several pieces that are free to download.



‘Dragon Tails: New Perspectives in Chinese Australian History’
Australian Historical Studies
42.1 (2011)


Dragon Tails: Re-interpreting Chinese Australian History
Keir J. Reeves and Tseen Khoo

Chinese Miners, Headmen, and Protectors on the Victorian Goldfields, 1853-1863
Mae M. Ngai 

The Merchants: Chinese Social Organisation in Colonial Australia
Alister Bowen

Chinese in Late Nineteenth-Century Bendigo: Their Local and Translocal Lives in ‘This Strangers’ Country’
Valerie Lovejoy 

Rewriting the History of Chinese Families in Nineteenth Century Australia
Kate Bagnall

Making the ‘Last Chinaman’: Photography and Chinese as a ‘Vanishing’ People in Australia’s Rural Local Histories
Sophie Couchman

Wartime Fundraising by Chinese Australian Communities
Tseen Khoo and Rodney Noonan

Sojourning and Settling: Locating Chinese Australian History
Keir J. Reeves and Benjamin W. Mountford 

Asylum Seekers, Willy Wong, and the Uses of History: From 2010 to 1962, and Back
Klaus Neumann

Exhibition Review
Still Children of the Dragon’? A Review of Three Chinese Australian Heritage Museums in Victoria
Karen Schamberger

Review Essay
War Stories in Australia: Scholarship, Memory and Public Intellectualism
Martin Crotty