South Flows the Pearl: Chinese Australian Voices - Australian Society for Asian Humanities South Flows the Pearl: Chinese Australian Voices - Australian Society for Asian Humanities

South Flows the Pearl: Chinese Australian Voices

South Flows the Pearl: Chinese Australian Voices

In the 1980s Mavis Gock Yen began interviewing elderly Chinese Australians, recording hours of conversations. These fascinating and absorbing stories of the struggles and successes of Chinese in Australia, told in their own words, have been edited by Siaoman Yen and Richard Horsburgh. They form the basis of South Flows the Pearl: Chinese Australian Voices, published by Sydney University Press in February 2022.

Perth-born Mavis Gock Yen (1916-2008), moved with her family to Shanghai in 1925 and spent time in China and Australia over the next twenty years. In 1946 she settled in China where she worked as a journalist and English teacher until after the Cultural Revolution, eventually returning to Australia in 1981 with her daughter Siaoman Yen. Mavis then began recording and writing this landmark pioneering oral history book which will change how you think about Australian history.

Learn more about South Flows the Pearl from editor Richard Horsburgh, historian Dr Sophie Loy-Wilson who wrote the introduction and Professor Kam Louie who wrote the foreword.

About the speakers

Kam Louie FHKAH FAHA Before serving as Dean of Arts at Hong Kong University, Kam was Professor of Chinese at UQ and ANU. He has also taught at Nanjing, Auckland and Murdoch Universities. He has studied at USyd, CUHK and Peking University, and held professorial fellowships at the Center for Chinese Studies, Taipei and NTU, Singapore. He is currently Honorary Professor at HKU and UNSW. He served on government committees such as the Australia-China Council, and on leaderships roles such as President of the Hong Kong Academy of Humanities and Head of the Asian Studies Section at the Australian Humanities Academy.

Publications include Inheriting Tradition: Interpretations of the Classical Philosophers in Communist China (Oxford UP), The Literature of China in the Twentieth Century (co-authored), (Columbia UP) and Theorising Chinese Masculinity (Cambridge UP). He was also Chief Editor of Asian Studies Review (1998 – 2006).

Richard Horsburgh is the son-in-law of South Flows the Pearl author Mavis Gock Yen. Together with his wife Siaoman Yen, Richard is the book’s editor. He is a retired NSW public servant who in recent years has become an active community based researcher into Chinese Australian history.

Sophie Loy-Wilson is a historian of Chinese Australian communities. Her first book was a study of China-Australia relations in the interwar years, seen through the prism of Chinese Australian communities in Shanghai. In the book, she highlighted the importance of economic archives for immigration historians; these archives often preserve migrant agency. She combines methodological insights from labour history, overseas Chinese history, and the New History of Capitalism to bring a ‘New Materialist’ approach to Australia’s multi-ethnic and multi-lingual past.

“Talks in Chinese Humanities” are co-presented by the China Studies Centre, the Department of Chinese Studies, the Australian Society for Asian Humanities and the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture at UNSW.

Please register for this event via Eventbrite.


Mar 29 2022


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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