A British legacy or modern university crisis? Chinese studies in Australian universities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Chinese Studies as an intellectual discipline in Australia has been a colonial phenomenon since its first establishment in the mid-20th century. At the same time, Chinese Studies in Australian universities has undergone a process of reconstruction and adjustment over the decades under the modern university system. Since Australia’s independence from Britain in 1901, the dynamics of modernity and historical reality of postcolonial conditions, the contemporary political, socio-economic environments, and its cultural relationships with countries in Asia, Europe and America are constantly shaping Australia’s nationhood beset with complexity in its evolution. This complexity has been understood in different ways—politically, economically and culturally—which have influenced questions of our individual and collective identity and our sense of belonging; questions which are crucial for understanding the development of Chinese Studies in Australia in the last few decades. This paper provides a brief trajectory about Chinese Studies in Australian Universities in the context of the British colonial legacy; how such a legacy is fading, so is the traditional Sinological studies of taking China as a culture or civilization to be understood, and how the tradition is being replaced by contemporary China Studies seeking solutions for, or understanding of, China as a “political” or “economic” power to be tackled by the West.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationColonial legacies and contemporary studies of China and Chineseness
Subtitle of host publicationunlearning binaries, strategizing self
EditorsChih-yu Shih
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing
Number of pages25
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Feb 2019


  • Chinese studies
  • Colonialism
  • Intellectual history
  • Sinology


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