Freelance writer – creative – media-maker
Twenty-three papers, two publication launches, one workshop and one master class later, Dragon Tails 2013 (6-8 July) is over.
Held at the University of Wollongong, the conference was convened by Julia Martinez, Jason Lim, and Paul Macgregor. Dragon Tails is a biannual conference on overseas Chinese history and heritage that showcases research on Chinese communities in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
There were many outstanding papers and it seems terribly unfair not to be able to mention them all. Delegates learned about the print culture of Chinese shopkeepers in New Guinea from Sophie Loy-Wilson (Deakin University), while the value of the records of the Chinese Consulate in Melbourne was highlighted by Mei-fen Kuo’s research (La Trobe University) into the lives of Chinese students who arrived on passports in the 1920s.
Stepping outside the bounds of universities, Emily Cheah (Chinese Museum, Melbourne) presented on a fascinating 1860s Chinese-English phrase book in the museum’s collection, which includes characters unique to colloquial Cantonese (as opposed to Mandarin).
The last day of Dragon Tails was timed to overlap with the start of the Australian Historical Association’s conference. As a result, keynote speaker Professor Henry Yu (University of British Columbia) had two audiences for his presentation, “The Cantonese Pacific and the Making and Un-Making of White Settler Nations.” It was encouraging to see the common history of the Chinese diaspora in the Pacific engaging the eyes and ears of both young and experienced historians within a mainstream context, particularly as the natural bias (at least in practice, if not in theory) of the Dragon Tails conference towards those working on the history of the Chinese in Australia can make delegates appear to be only ‘speaking to themselves.’
Those who have become regulars at the biannual conference tend to hold it in special regard and it’s easy to see why. It is sufficiently specialist to work as a single-stream conference — meaning that everyone gets the opportunity to hear all the speakers — and for there to be an assumed body of knowledge among delegates. Despite this, its appeal is broad enough to attract delegates from a range of backgrounds. During breaks between sessions, university-affiliated scholars, independent researchers, community activists, and members of the wider community mingled freely, exchanging congratulations, emails, knowledge, and resources. This absence of scholarly hierarchies, paired with a keenly felt sense of being among ‘kindred research spirits’, is what I personally love most about Dragon Tails.
I was fortunate enough to attend the postgraduate masterclass chaired by Associate Professor Julia MartÍnez, in which participants discussed their progress on their respective master’s and doctoral theses. It was heartening to note the range of topics represented, including a history of Chinese market gardens in Australia and New Zealand (Joanna Boileau, University of New England), which was until recently a curious gap in a literature otherwise filled with references to market gardens. Peter Gibson’s thesis (University of Wollongong) on the Chinese community in Wollongong, meanwhile, offered an insightful companion perspective to the predominant histories of cities with larger Chinese populations (such as Sydney and Melbourne). If this masterclass offers a glimpse into the future of historical research of the Chinese in Australia, it is looking bright indeed.
Alas, we will have to wait until 2015 for the next Dragon Tails, which may, if early indications are anything to go by, be held in Queensland.
Will I be there? You can count on it.
You can find the twitter archive for Dragon Tails here: http://thebroadside.org/tw-archives/index.php?archive=dtails2013
First published on the Asian Australian Studies Research Network blog here
For a few weeks now, I have been the presenter of Live At The Convent, 3MBS’s flagship, live-to-air performance programme, which showcases emerging musicians from Melbourne and Tasmania. Now, it’s official. I’m a permanent fixture on the show!
Former presenter Susan Batten can be found in the orchestra pit of the smash hit musical Mary Poppins, and I wish her all the best on her exciting journey.
In the meantime, you can still catch me on Tuesday Midday, 12-1.30pm, only now I’m on for an extra hour afterwards, as LATC goes to air each week from 1.30-2.30pm.
For more information about 3MBS go to: www.3mbs.org.au.
Tune in tonight (Friday 11th June) on 3MBS 103.5 FM at 8pm to hear this 2-hour celebration of the creative romance between these two artistic giants of the twentieth century. Listen via radio or live internet streaming www.3mbs.org.au.
Hosted and produced by moi, the show features commentary, music and quotes from seven of the pair’s collaborative ballets: Agon, Apollo, Renard, Danses Concertantes, Jeu de Cartes and Stravinsky Violin concerto. Don’t miss it!
That’s right, I’m moving. From April 6th onwards, I will no longer be pulling all-nighters on Friday Night Owls, midnight-2am.
Instead, I will be hosting 3MBS‘s Midday (formerly known as Much Ado About Midday) on Tuesdays, from 12 noon to 1.30pm, just before the station’s high-profile Live at the Convent. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and be assured I’ll be doing my best to bring you the best of classical music radio.
The third special in 3MBS FM‘s Passion for Dance series, Australia Dancing will air on Friday April 9th, 8-10pm. Join me as we celebrate Australia’s dance scene, from colonial times to the present day.
As always, expect lots of music, history and fun anecdotes. Australia Dancing will also feature an interview with dance historian and The Age dance critic, Jordan Vincent.
The second special in 3MBS 103.5 FM‘s new Passion for Dance series, DANCE IN CONTEXT airs this Friday March 12th, 8-10pm.
Join me, Grace Edwards, as we look at some of dance’s encounters with the wider world of religion, politics and society, throughout Western history. Dance in Context features music from across the ages, as well as interviews with the Early Arts Guild of Victoria‘s Artistic Director, Helga Hill and tango scholar, Dr. Guillermo Anad.