Jinghua: Part of what we wanted to do was to find the stories missing from the narrative, but I’m really resistant to the idea of heroes… I don’t want to topple one statue and put up another.
Liz: But it’s much harder to find out much about the lives of people who don’t get a statue… We had to go into our research without a predetermined idea of what the final story would be. And it’s this, I think, that’s more useful for those of us on the Left than mining the past for forebears, or new heroes: seeing its radical unfamiliarity.
Liz and I wrote a feature for Overland on Underfoot (our Footscray history multimedia project) and how everyone can make and write history. Read it here.
It’s International Working Women’s Day today, which means my grandmother would’ve turned 92 next week. She died in December. Her life (1929-2020) spanned nearly 100 years of immense upheaval in China and she survived it all with resilience, dignity and optimism. I wrote a thread remembering her – first on Twitter, and then republished in Chinarrative. Read below.
Liz and I were on Radio National this morning talking with Jonathan Green about the secret histories of Footscray for Blueprint’s Sense of Place segment. Listen to the show here and check out our Footscray history project, Underfoot.
My Meanjin piece from the Summer 2019 issue is now online if you’re interested. It’s a review of The Chinawoman, a book about a white woman sex worker who was murdered in 1856 Melbourne, and it’s also a reflection on Chinese-Australian history, Aboriginal deaths in custody today, who is worthy of protection, who is disposable, and how that’s shifted.
‘Between Australia’s hunger to spin its immigrant communities into a simple, palatable narrative, and the PRC government’s mission to absorb the accomplishments of overseas Chinese into its own national history, the richness and complexity of Chinese Australian life can get lost.’
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.