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Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 Poison, Polygamy and Postcolonial Politics : The First Chinese Australian Novel
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This article examines the first novel written by a Chinese diaspora writer in Australia, The Poison of Polygamy (多妻毒), published in instalments in the Chinese-language newspaper Chinese Times (Melbourne) from 1909 to 1910. Set during the Gold Rush of the 1850s, the novel is nevertheless of its own time, reflecting the pressing concerns of a community in turmoil as the political upheavals of China in the final years of the Qing dynasty competed for attention with the disastrous effects of the White Australia policy. Taking the form of a picaresque and cautionary tale warning against traditional practices such as polygamy, opium smoking and foot-binding, the novel seeks to educate members of the lower classes of the Chinese community while embracing the republican cause against the Manchu rulers. The article argues that the progressive political agenda of the text (democratic, feminist) stands in sharp contrast to the view of the Chinese which prevailed in the white Australian community at the time.' (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Journal of Postcolonial Writing Asian Australian Writing vol. 52 no. 5 December 2016 10768503 2016 periodical issue

    'This special issue of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, the result of a collaboration with the South Asian Diaspora International Research Network (SADIRN) at Monash University, Australia, engages with Asian Australian writing, a phenomenon that has been staking out a place in the Australian literary landscape since the 1950s and 1960s. It has now burgeoned into an influential area of cultural production, known for its ethnic diversity and stylistic innovativeness, and demanding new forms of critical engagement involving transnational and transcultural frameworks. As Wenche Ommundsen and Huang Zhong point out in their article in this issue, the very term “Asian Australian” signals a heterogeneity that rivals that of the dominant Anglo Australian culture; just as white Australian writing displays the lineaments of its complex European heritage, so hybridized works by multicultural writers from mainland China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia can be read in terms of their specific national, ethnic, linguistic and cultural traditions. Nevertheless, this category’s primary location within the space of the host or Australian nation has determined its reception and interpretation. Marked by controversial representations of historical and present-day encounters with white Australian culture, and debates on alterity representational inequality, and conscious of its minority status, Asian Australian writing has become a force field of critical enquiry in its own right (Ommundsen 2012 Ommundsen, Wenche. 2012. “Transnational Imaginaries: Reading Asian Australian Writing.” Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 12 (2): 1–8.

    , 2).' (Introduction)

    pg. 533-544
Last amended 27 Feb 2017 11:00:51
533-544 Poison, Polygamy and Postcolonial Politics : The First Chinese Australian Novelsmall AustLit logo Journal of Postcolonial Writing