Mixing Race: The Kong Sing Brothers and Australian Sport

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania on 2013-04-05 04:14Z by Steven

Mixing Race: The Kong Sing Brothers and Australian Sport

Australian Historical Studies
Volume 39, Issue 3 (2008)
pages 338-355
DOI: 10.1080/10314610802263323

Gary Osmond, Lecturer
School of Human Movement Studies
University of Queensland

Marie-Louise McDermott
Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia

Little research exists on the participation of Chinese in Australian sport in the colonial or Federation periods. This article examines the involvement of three, hitherto-unknown, amateur sportsmen in late nineteenth-century Sydney—the Kong Sing brothers. Otto, Ophir, and George Kong Sing, sons of a Chinese shopkeeper and white Australian mother, participated in several sports over two decades, enjoying varying degrees of success and recognition. Adopting a mixed-race perspective, this article examines their identity in various contexts as Chinese, Australian, and Anglo-Chinese in order to explore the complexities of racial identity and the lived Chinese Australian experience.

My favourite trivia question in baseball is, ‘Which Italian American player for the Brooklyn Dodgers once hit 40 home runs in a season?’ Nobody ever gets it right, because the answer is Roy Campanella. who was as Italian as he was black. He had an Italian father and a black mother, but he’s always classified as black.

Stephen Jay Gould, 2003

Reformulations of race as socially Constructed, rather than biologically determined, have highlighted the multilayered, hybrid, and complex dimensions of racial identity and it is widely accepted that racial and other cultural identities are shaped by flux, discontinuities, and rupture. Appreciation of the ambivalence of constructed racial identities has challenged the ‘binary categorisations and oppositions of “old” versions of racial difference. Identities of individuals and groups cannot easily and safely be fixed or generalised, despite dominant race-thinking which seeks simple, common racial denominators, as demonstrated in the sporting context by Gould above. His example of Campanella draws attention to the concept of mixed race, around which a substantial literature has grown. As well as acknowledging individual realities, mixed-race…

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‘Breed out the Colour’ or the Importance of Being White

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Oceania, Politics/Public Policy on 2011-10-03 23:26Z by Steven

‘Breed out the Colour’ or the Importance of Being White

Australian Historical Studies
Volume 33, Issue 120 (2002)
pages 286-302
DOI: 10.1080/10314610208596220

Russell McGregor, Associate Professor of History
James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

This article examines inter-war proposals to ‘breed out the colour’ of Aborigines of mixed descent. Positioning these proposals in the context of contemporary Australian nationalism, scientific discourses and administrative practice, the article concludes with a discussion of their alleged genocidal intent.

In Australia between the wars, ‘breeding out the colour’ was propounded as a solution to the ‘half-caste problem’. It was a perverse proposition. The supposed problems deriving from miscegenation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians would be remedied by instituting still more comprehensive regimes of miscegenation. But now miscegenation would be managed. And the perversity of absorption did not end there. It was a nationalist project, aspiring to keep Australia white; but it flew in the face of commonly understood notions of White Australia as a doctrine of racial purity. Absorption was intensely racist but at the same time defied prevalent racist assumptions of ‘hybrid inferiority’ and demands for the segregation of ‘half-castes’. It was in certain respects a eugenist strategy, but in others dashed with eugenic principles, Absorption held a component of humanitarian welfarism; it also evinced a profound disdain for the subjects of its welfare interventions, a disdain that could extend to the attempted eradication of all vestiges of Aboriginality. This aticle explores these multiple and conflicting imensions of schemes to ‘breed out the colour’ in the Inter-war years.

For all its myriad inspirations and aspirations, ‘breeding out the colour’ was above all just that: a stratagem to erase ‘colour’, to bleach Australia white through programs of regulated reproduction. So committed were its proponents to the process of whitening that one could imagine that they took whiteness as an end in itself, a taken-for-granted good. Perhaps they did. Whiteness was a potent signifier: of virtue, of racial superiority, above all in this context, of national membership. Breeding the colour out of persons of Aboriginal descent was equally a process of breeding them into the community of the nation. Inter-war programs of biological absorption should be understood, I argue, in the…

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Ambiguities of Race: Science on the Reproductive Frontier of Australia and the Pacific Between the Wars

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Oceania on 2011-08-15 02:14Z by Steven

Ambiguities of Race: Science on the Reproductive Frontier of Australia and the Pacific Between the Wars

Australian Historical Studies
Volume 40, Issue 2, 2009
pages 143-160
DOI: 10.1080/10314610902849302

Warwick Anderson, Professor of History
University of Sydney

The attitudes of Australian biologists, anthropologists, and historians toward race mixing in the early-twentieth century should be viewed in relation to the investigations of Indigenous depopulation and miscegenation taking place in the Pacific. Those Australian scientists committed to national or continental racial ideals–Cecil Cook and Norman B. Tindale among them–remained resistant to the lessons of the Pacific, favouring ‘half-caste’ absorption. Other scholars such as Stephen Roberts and A. P. Elkin took the oceanic approach, coming to value and harness racial hybridity. This essay shows how much of Australian racial thought drifted in from the Pacific.

In 1925, as he shuttled between Townsville and Rabaul, Raphael Cilento wrote to extol the new tropical white man evolving in North Queensland. A fierce advocate of white racial purity, the director of the Townsville Institute of Tropical Medicine was convinced the peculiar Australian combination of selected European stock, restriction of intercourse with other races, a tropical environment and modern preventive medicine was producing a more virile white man north of Capricorn, not another degenerate type. ‘He is tall and rangy, with somewhat sharp features, and long legs and arms’, Cilento wrote. ‘Inclined to be sparely built, he is not, however, lacking in muscular strength, while his endurance is equal in his own circumstances to that of the temperate dweller in his. This North Queenslander moves slowly, and conserves muscular heat-producing energy in every possible way’. It was as though the Townsville racial visionary was channelling Marcus Clarke, only the Melbourne novelist’s sardonic 1877 prophecy of the coming man now spawned rhapsodies in the tropical heat. The race is in a transition stage’, Cilento continued, ‘and it is very apparent that there is being evolved precisely what one would hope for, namely a distinctive tropical type, adapted to life in the tropical environment in which it
is set’. Cilento was certainly not crying in the wilderness. Ronald Hamlyn-Harris, director of the Queensland Museum and scourge of the mosquito, joined him in trying to cultivate ‘in the rising generation year after year a vision of…

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