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Chinese women in colonial New South Wales: from absence to presence
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-20, 19:01 authored by Katherine BagnallKatherine Bagnall
The history of early Chinese migration to New South Wales, and the other Australasian colonies, is usually told as a story of men. It is not hard to see why. Founded as a British penal colony in 1788, New South Wales became, over the next 60 years, home to a small and scattered number of Chinese men—mostly sailors, carpenters, cooks and labourers. Then, in 1848, a group of 120 Chinese men and boys arrived in Sydney—the first of around 3,500 indentured labourers from Amoy (廈門) who came to the colony over a six-year period to 1853. After the discovery of gold in New South Wales in 1851, this small Chinese population grew significantly, with as many as 12,000 Chinese arriving in New South Wales in one year alone (1858). Legislation restricted the number of Chinese immigrants between 1862 and 1867, yet over the 25 years from 1856 to 1880, almost 40,000 Chinese entered New South Wales. These goldrush immigrants were characterised by two things in particular: they were predominantly Cantonese and they were overwhelmingly male.
Publication titleAustralian Journal of Biography and History
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
Place of publicationAustralia
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