Dr Kate Bagnall is a historian based in Hobart, Australia, where she is Senior Lecturer in Humanities and Coordinator of the Family History program at the University of Tasmania. From 2016 to 2019 Kate was an ARC DECRA Research Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry at the University of Wollongong, where she undertook a comparative study of Chinese colonial citizenship in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. She has published on various aspects of Chinese Australian history including, with Sophie Couchman, of Chinese Australians: Politics, Engagement and Resistance (Brill 2015) and, with Julia Martínez, Locating Chinese Women: Historical Mobility between China and Australia (HKU Press, 2021). Much of Kate’s research has explored the lives of the women, children and families of Australia’s early Chinese communities and the transnational connections and qiaoxiang ties of Chinese Australians before 1940. She is @baibi on Twitter and you can find her blog at www.chineseaustralia.org.
2006 Doctor of Philosophy Department of History, University of Sydney
Thesis – Golden shadows on a white land: An exploration of the lives of white women who partnered Chinese men and their children in southern Australia, 1855–1915 (Supervisor: Dr Penny Russell)
1999–2000 Chinese language (non-award) University of Sydney and Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou
Sydney University – Mandarin (3 semesters) and Classical Chinese (1 semester)
Chinese Language Program, School of Chinese as a Second Language, Sun Yat-Sen University – Mandarin (intensive program; 1 semester)
1996 BA Honours (History) University of Sydney
Honours thesis – ‘Done to death’: Narratives of baby-farming and infanticide in Australia 1890–1904 (pdf, 16mb) (Supervisor: Dr Penny Russell)
- September 2019 – current Senior Lecturer in Humanities (History), University of Tasmania
- January 2016 – July 2019 ARC DECRA Fellow, School of Humanities & Social Inquiry, Faculty of Law, Humanities & the Arts, University of Wollongong
- 2014–2015 Consulting historian and freelance editor
- 2011–2014 Senior Editor (EL1), Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- 2009–2011 Editor (EL1), Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
- 2009 Early Career Summer Fellow, Centre for Historical Research, National Museum of Australia
- 2003–2009 Website Content Developer, National Archives of Australia
- 1998–2002 PhD study, Department of History, University of Sydney
- 1999 Tutor, Sex and Scandal (Lecturer: Penny Russell), Department of History, University of Sydney
- 1999 Tutor, Australia to 1888 (Lecturers: Richard White & Penny Russell), Department of History, University of Sydney
- 1997 English teacher, Zhuhai Australian English Language Centre, Zhuhai, China
Fellowships and awards
- Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, 2016–2019 (DE160100027, $357,793)
- Australian Academy of the Humanities Travelling Fellowship, 2014 ($4000)
- Ian Maclean Award, National Archives of Australia, 2012–13 ($14,825)
- Early Career Summer Fellow, Centre for Historical Research, National Museum of Australia, January–April 2009 (12 weeks, APS6)
- Postgraduate Research Support Scheme, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney, 2002
- Full scholarship for six months of study at a Chinese university, China Scholarship Council, 2000
- Joan Allsop Grant-in-Aid, Department of History, University of Sydney, 2000 and 2003
- John Frazer Travelling Scholarship, University of Sydney, 1999
- Australian Postgraduate Award with Stipend, University of Sydney, 1998–2002
Locating Chinese Women: Historical Mobility Between Australia and China (2017)
Co-ordinator and contributor, historical photographic exhibition
On display: Feminist Research Network Symposium, University of Wollongong, September 2017
Chinese Fortunes (2017)
Contributor (one text panel), bilingual (English and Mandarin) exhibition
On display: Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (January to July 2017); Immigration Museum Melbourne (August 2017 to March 2018)
The Chungking Legation:
Australia’s Diplomatic Mission in Wartime China (2015)
Curator, bilingual (English and Mandarin) exhibition prepared in conjunction with the Chinese Museum, Melbourne for the Australian Consulate-General in Chengdu, China
On display: Chinese Museum, Melbourne (April to November 2016); Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade in Canberra (December 2015 to January 2016); various locations in China, including the Intercontinental Hotel in Chongqing, the Chongqing Municipal Library and the Three Gorges Museum in Chongqing (March 2015 to present)
Keynotes and invited public lectures
2019 The Real Face of White Australia, Digital Histories Research Seminar, Australian Centre for Public History, University of Technology Sydney, 9 May.
2019 ‘Writing women into Chinese Australian history’, Department of History / Gender Studies Programme, University of Hong Kong, 21 March.
2018 ‘Gold Mountain guests: Cantonese settlers across the southern colonies’, public lecture, Global Dunedin Series, Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand, 10 June.
2018 ‘“All the rights and capacities”? Chinese naturalisation and colonial mobility’, keynote lecture, Amidst Empires: Colonialism, China and the Chinese, 1839–1997, Flinders University, Adelaide, 29–30 January.
2017 ‘Australia and China: Before and below the nation’, keynote and public lecture, Looking Back, Moving Forward: Symposium on the Future of Australia-China Relations, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney, 24 October.
2016 ‘Communities in the Qing era: The Chinese in Australia’, public lecture, National Library of Australia, 24 January.
2015 ‘Southern Australia’s Chinese heritage’, public lecture, Guangdong Overseas Chinese Culture Research Centre, Wuyi University, Jiangmen, China, 6 January.
2014 ‘Women and the Chinese on the goldfields of New South Wales’, public lecture, Museum of Sydney, 22 June.
2013 ‘The transnational Chinese family in Australia’, public lecture, Australia in the World History Lecture and Seminar Series, University of Melbourne, 18 September.
‘Researching early Chinese Australian families’, U3A Wollongong, 23 October 2017.
‘Researching early Chinese Australian families – 8 sources to know’, Deniliquin Family History Expo, Deniliquin Genealogy Society, Deniliquin, 14 October 2017.
‘Naturalised Chinese in Colonial Australia’, Beyond the New Gold Mountain: CCCAV 2017 Conference, RMIT, Melbourne, 24 June 2017.
‘From Canton to the colonies: Chinese women in nineteenth-century New South Wales’, History Week talk sponsored by Wollongong City Libraries, Corrimal District Library, 7 September 2016.
‘Researching Chinese Australian family history’ (2-hour seminar), Society of Australian Genealogists, Sydney, 30 April 2016.
‘Women, history and the shifting patterns of Chinese Australian life’, opening of John Young Zerunge’s Modernity’s End: Half the Sky exhibition, Incinerator Art Space, Willoughby City Council, 2 March 2016.
‘A culture of suspicion: Chinese at the border of White Australia’, One Day Symposium: The Commonwealth Department of Immigration—Then and Now, La Trobe University, 19 February 2016.
‘Communities in the Qing era: The Chinese in Australia’, public lecture at National Library of Australia, 24 January 2016.
‘Early Chinese Australian families – putting your Chinese ancestors in context’, 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry, Canberra, 26–30 March 2015.
‘Finding your Chinese roots: Tips for tracing your Australian family’s Chinese origins’, 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry, Canberra, 26–30 March 2015.
‘Southern Australia’s Chinese heritage’, Guangdong Overseas Chinese Culture Research Centre, Wuyi University, China, 6 January 2015.
‘Family politics: Chinese wives in Australia, 1902 to 1920’, Chinese Women in the Southern Diaspora History Symposium, University of Wollongong, 5 December 2014.
‘Women and the Chinese on the goldfields of New South Wales’, public lecture, Museum of Sydney, 22 June 2014.
‘The transnational Chinese family in Australia’, New Migration Histories Public Lecture (with Joy Damousi and Sheila Fitzgerald), Australia in the World History Lecture and Seminar Series (convened by Marilyn Lake), University of Melbourne, 18 September 2013.
‘Finding a family connection to China’, talk presented at Stepping Ashore: How to Research Your Chinese Family History workshop, Chinese Australian Historical Society Inc., Sydney, 13 September 2008.
‘Exploring Chinese-Australian ancestral homes’, talk presented to the Chinese Women’s Association, Sydney, 14 June 2008.
‘Introduction to Chinese records in the National Archives’, talk presented to the Chinese Australian Historical Society Inc., National Archives of Australia, Canberra, 29 September 2007.
‘Home villages in China’, talk given at the Chinese Australian Historical Society Member Forum, Sydney, 21 July 2007.
‘In the repository, under the bed: Managing Chinese Australian documentary heritage’, paper presented at Tracking the Dragon: Chinese Australian Cultural Heritage National Workshop, Brisbane, 16–18 October 2006.
‘A trip through Taishan’, paper presented at the NSW History Week seminar on Clan Organisations in the Sydney Chinese Communities, Chinese Australian Historical Society, Sydney, 21 September 2003.
‘Comings and goings: Some cases from the files of the National Archives of Australia (Sydney)’, talk given to the Chinese Australian Family and Community History Group, National Archives of Australia, Sydney, 1 June 2001.
‘The early history of the Chinese in Australia’, talk given at Zhuhai Radio and Television University, Zhuhai, China, 20 November 1999.
‘Chinese women in colonial New South Wales: A case study approach’, paper presented at the International Conference on Chinese Women in World History, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, 11–14 July 2017.
‘Naturalisation and Chinese restriction in colonial Australasia’, paper presented at ‘Entangled Histories’, Australian Historical Association Conference, University of Newcastle, 3–7 July 2017.
‘Naturalised Chinese in British settler societies of the Pacific Rim, 1860 to 1920‘, paper presented at Colonial Formations: Connections and Collisions conference, University of Wollongong, 23–25 November 2016.
‘Potter v. Minahan 1908: a legal challenge to White Australia’, paper presented at the 9th International Conference of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO), Richmond BC, Canada, 6–8 July 2016.
‘Reconfigured identities in the transnational childhoods of Anglo-Chinese Australians’, paper presented at Race, Mobility and Imperial Networks conference, RMIT, 9–11 November 2015.
‘Charlie Allen writes home from China’, paper presented at ‘Foundational Histories’, Australian Historical Association Conference, University of Sydney, 6–10 July 2015.
‘Everyday intimacies: Women’s cross-cultural interactions on a colonial goldfield’, paper presented at Migrant Cross-Cultural Encounters: A Multidisciplinary Conference, University of Otago, 24–26 November 2014.
‘Family politics: Chinese wives in Australia, 1902 to 1920’, paper presented at the Chinese Heritage in Northern Australia Inc. conference, Cairns, 22–23 February 2014.
‘In and out of the archive: Understanding Anglo-Chinese lives’, paper presented at the Australian Historical Association conference, University of Wollongong, 8–12 July 2013.
‘“Prized in proportion to their rarity”: Three Chinese women in colonial New South Wales’, paper presented at Dragon Tails 2013, University of Wollongong, 6–8 July 2013.
‘Returning home alone: Marital breakdown and the voluntary repatriation of Australian wives from south China’, paper presented at the Lilith conference: ‘Women without men’, Australian National University, 10 May 2013.
‘Chinese fathers and their Australian families return to China, 1902–1940’, paper presented at the Visible Immigrants Seven workshop, University of Adelaide/Migration Museum, Adelaide, 14–15 December 2012.
‘”I’m an Australian”: Anglo-Chinese and the Immigration Restriction Act in New South Wales, 1902–1920’, paper presented at Connections: Australian Historical Association 31st Annual Conference, University of Adelaide, 9–13 July 2012.
‘Paper trails: Anglo-Chinese Australians and the White Australia Policy’, paper presented at the Fifth WCILCOS International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies: Chinese through the Americas, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 16–19 May 2012.
‘”Charity covereth a multitude of sins”: Destitute, neglected and deserted Anglo-Chinese children in Australia’, paper presented at the Australasian Social Welfare History Workshop, University of New South Wales, 18–19 February 2010.
‘A legacy of White Australia: Records about Chinese Australians in the National Archives of Australia’, paper presented at the Fourth International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China, 10 May 2009.
‘”I always wanted to return to Australia”: Transnational lives and national imperatives in the case of Potter v. Minahan (1908)’, paper presented at Moving Cultures, Shifting Identities: A conference about migration, connection, heritage and cultural memory, Flinders University, Adelaide, 3–5 December 2007.
‘Journeys of love: Australian wives in China, 1885–1935’, paper presented at the Transnational Lives: Biography Across Boundaries conference, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, 27-28 July 2006.
‘Uncommon Lives in the National Archives: Biography, history and the records of government’, paper presented at the Australian Historical Association Conference, Australian National University, July 2006.
‘Experiences of Anglo-Chinese families in China’, paper presented at the Postgraduate Research in Australian History seminar, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney, 16 September 2005.
‘Going north to China as their wives: The experiences of Western wives in south China’, paper presented at the International Conference on Quong Tart and his Times, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 1-4 July 2004.
‘“I am nearly heartbroken about him”: Stories of Australian mothers’ separation from their “Chinese” children’, paper presented at the Australian Historical Association conference, Mildura, September 2003.
‘Ah Haih: One woman’s life in a Chinese village’, paper presented at the International Workshop on Researching the Homelands of Trans-Pacific Chinese, Chinese Australian Historical Society, Sydney, 13 July 2002.
‘Across the threshold: White women and Chinese hawkers in the white colonial imaginary’, paper presented at the Australia Historical Association Conference, Griffith University, Brisbane, 3-6 July 2002.
‘Chinese-Australian children in nineteenth-century New South Wales’, paper presented at the Australian Historical Association Conference, Adelaide University, 5-9 July 2000.
‘He would be a Chinese still: Negotiating boundaries of race, culture and identity in late nineteenth-century Australia’, paper presented at the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Conference, Chinese Museum, Melbourne, 1-2 July 2000.
‘Sex, protection or partnership? Chinese-European marriages in nineteenth-century New South Wales’, paper presented at the Workshop on the Chinese in Australian and New Zealand History, University of New South Wales, 11-13 February 2000.
- Convenor, Subjects and Aliens Symposium, University of Wollongong, 28 November 2017
- Historical research and advisor to Who Do You Think You Are? television series (Australia and UK)
- Associate of the Centre for Applied History at Macquarie University
- Co-convenor, Chinese Women in the Southern Diaspora History Symposium, University of Wollongong, 5 December 2014
- Co-convenor, Dragon Tails 2011 – sources, language, approaches, Chinese Museum, Melbourne, 11–14 November 2011
- Organising committee member, Dragon Tails: Re-Interpreting Chinese-Australian Heritage, Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, 9–11 October 2009
- Co-convenor, Workshop on the Chinese in Australian and New Zealand History, University of New South Wales, 11–13 February 2000
- Historical research consultancy for biography of LJ Hooker by Natalia Hooker
- Radio interviews with ABC International, ABC 702 Sydney, ABC 666 Canberra, ABC TV Canberra, and SBS Radio World View
- Co-editor of the online Journal of Chinese Australia
- Founding life member of the Chinese Australian Historical Society Inc.
- Manuscript reviews for Australian Historical Studies, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, New Zealand Journal of History, Journal of Australian Studies, Queensland Review, Journal of Australian Colonial History and History Australia
- Australian Historical Association
- Professional Historians Association NSW & ACT
- Women’s History Network
- International Society for the Study of the Chinese Overseas
- English: native speaker
- Mandarin: conversational fluency, basic reading and writing skills
- Cantonese: basic conversational skills
- French: basic conversation skills, reading fluency