University of Tasmania
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\The Middle People\" A History of the Launceston Chinese Community"

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posted on 2023-05-27, 08:42 authored by Alcock, J
The Launceston Chinese community makes up only a small proportion of the Launceston population, yet inspite of this fact it remains an active, cohesive cultural group. The community, however, in spite of being identifiably a group made up of a specific, racially defined, sector of the Launceston community is not exclusive. The group, although Chinese, is equally Australian and the members consider themselves \middle people\" with a unique perspective on two vastly different cultures which allows them to function socially with more alternatives than the either the Chinese living in China or Europeans living in Australia a culturally European-based society. Contributing factors for the existence of this situation come from many sources. The culture of the Australia as essentially a European colony and the history of China particularly in the last 160 years have both influenced immigration patterns. The political and social turmoil that China has undergone during this era has proved a powerful motivating factor for Chinese to emigrate. Australian history is of equal importance. The Australian demand for labour and the goldrushes provided economic prospects for Chinese and this proved a motivating factor inattracting Chinese to immigrate to Australia. Tasmania's history of differences from other colonies and states provided opportunities for economic prospects without the same extent of racial antagonism experienced in other areas of Australia. Thus the Tasmanian tin industry drew much Chinese secondary immigration and the concentrations of Chinese in the North East gave them the cultural freedom and security to develop a harmonious and even mutually beneficial relationship with European immigrant sectors of the community. The Chinese community of the twentieth century particularly the post World War II era saw the Tasmanian Chinese community linked more strongly with some of the problems between Asians and Europeans in other parts of Australia. This was because of Federation in 1901 and the jurisdiction for immigration legislation passing from the hands of the colonial government to that of the federal government. Legislative persecution of Tasmanian Chinese inspired by racial disputes that originated in different colonies ensued. In the era 1966- 1973 changing attitudes led to the dismantling of the legislation known as the White Australia Policy and a wave of educated enterprising and entrepreneurial Chinese immigrants began to arrive in Launceston. Through an examination of the composition of the modern Launceston Chinese community its concerns organisations and activities this study will portray a community neither fully Chinese nor fully Australian; neither assimilated nor isolated and also not strictly both Australian and Chinese. Instead they are a \"middle people\" who have synthesised their own unique culture out of comparing and reconciling aspects of both Australian and Chinese culture and thus synthesising something completely new."


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