Chinatown podcast | Recess x Rising

I made a short podcast about Melbourne’s Chinatown for The Hearts of the People are Measured by the Size of the Land, an exhibition curated by Olivia Koh (Recess) for Rising.

Sadly the festival is paused while Melbourne goes into its fourth lockdown so I’m not sure whether you’ll be able to see the exhibition currently, even the outdoor projections, but you can listen to the podcast in the meantime. Hoping events just get rescheduled.

In this podcast, Jinghua Qian offers a broken, bite-sized history of Chinatown and its role as the epicentre of a fractured and evolving community.

Audio samples

Nikki Lam, ‘Anchor and a Loose Thread 錨,和懸絲’, two-channel video installation, 2019. Sound design: Supina Bytol and Conor O’Hanlon.

Jay-Dea Lopez, ‘Chinatown, Melbourne’, Sounds Like Noise, 8 October 2011.

Peter Luck, ‘Chinese Australians ambivalent about revolution | RetroFocus’, ABC, 1969. (Accessed via YouTube.)

Cantonese with Brittany, ‘Cantonese vs. Taishanese (ft. Inspirlang)’, YouTube, 30 January 2021.

Inspirlang, ‘Taishanese Tones and Pronunciations (a complete guide to learn how to speak 台山話/Toisan/Hoisanwa)’, YouTube, 30 January 2021.

Nahuatl Tlahtocan, ‘Episode 2: A Linguistic History of Nahuatl’, YouTube, 20 June 2020.

Jess Ho, ‘The End of Chinatown’, 7am, 4 May 2021.

Daniel Keane, ‘Protesters call for wage theft crackdown in Adelaide’s Chinatown following alleged assault’, ABC, 6 February 2021.

Further reading

Jinghua Qian, ‘Chinatown: Melbourne’, Culture Trip, 29 June 2020.

Jinghua Qian, ‘Yellow peril isn’t what it used to be’, Meanjin, Summer 2019/2020.

Liam Ward, ‘Radical Chinese labour in Australian history’, Marxist Left Review, No. 10 Winter 2015.

Jinghua Qian, ‘Things and their makers: from “European labour only” to “ethical consumerism”’, Right Now, 8 September 2015.

Full references available on request.

Underfoot: underground histories from Footscray 3011

Finally it’s launch day!

Underfoot presents four virtual audio tours through Footscray’s past. Liz and I bring an intimate lens to local history as we wander the streets and the archives looking for people like us: queers, migrants, radicals and artists. There are some big conversations about capitalism, nationalism and settler nativism, as well as some finely aged gossip.

Each track comes with a map, transcript, photos and notes so you can either explore these places in real life (observing social distancing!) or just enjoy the stories while staying home. You can even dive into some historical research yourself if you’re so inclined.

Here it is: Underfoot.