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Issue Details: First known date: 2018... 2018 Chinese in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and Australia
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'According to Tom Griffiths, chairman of the editorial board of the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB), the dictionary is ‘the largest and most successful cooperative research enterprise in the humanities and social sciences in Australia’, which captures ‘the life and times and culture of this country in an absolutely distinctive and irreplaceable way’.2 Since the first volume was launched in 1966, more than 4,500 authors have contributed just over 13,000 entries. The general editor, Melanie Nolan, has observed that ‘the dictionary has survived the test of time, providing material for others to construct their own images of the “real” Australian or the “typical Australian”’.3 To reflect this ‘real Australian’ ethos, the ADB records the cultural heritage (ethnicity) of subjects. Of the top 10 ethnicities in Australia, as recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a search on the ADB website ( found that, as of September 2018, 6,624 subjects were of British heritage (4,841 English, 1,624 Scottish, 159 Welsh), 294 were from New Zealand, 32 were Chinese, 10 were Indian, none were of Philippine or Vietnamese heritage, 88 were Italian, 29 were South African, two were Malayan and 321 were German.4 Thus, people of Asian heritage are clearly under-represented. To illustrate the significance of this omission, or neglect, I will take the Chinese entries as an analytic group, and suggest where improvements could be made. The Chinese are of particular importance because they were the largest non-European group in the Australian population in the nineteenth century.'

Source: Introduction.

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Last amended 17 Feb 2020 14:52:47
171-180 Chinese in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and Australiasmall AustLit logo Australian Journal of Biography and History
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