Panel 3: Cultural Engagement


Jocelyn Chey (Director of the Australia China Institute for Arts and Culture,Western Sydney University)

Professor Jocelyn Chey’s career has been in the diplomatic service and in academic life in Australia.   She commenced work for the federal government in 1973, when Australia first established diplomatic relations with China.  For more than 20 years, she worked on Australia-China relations in the Departments of Trade and Foreign Affairs and was posted three times in China and Hong Kong, concluding with appointment as Consul-General in Hong Kong (1992-1995).  She was the first Executive Director of the Australia-China Council when it was founded in 1979.  From 1988-92 she was Director of the China Branch of the International Wool Secretariat.   

Jocelyn is the Director of the Australia China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University.  She is also Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney and a consultant on Australia-China relations. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2009 for her contributions to that relationship and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.  She has edited and co-authored two books on Chinese humour and published many articles on soft power and cultural diplomacy.


  • Luise Guest (White Rabbit Contemporary Chinese Art Collection)

Luise Guest is a Sydney-based writer and researcher, and the Manager of Research for the White Rabbit Collection of Contemporary Chinese Art. In that capacity, she is tasked with making the collection accessible to students and researchers, within Australia and internationally. With a background in art education, Luise’s writing about Chinese art has been published in a range of online and print journals including Randian, Artist Profile, and the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. ‘Half the Sky: Conversations with Women Artists in China’ was published by Piper Press in 2016. Her current PhD research focuses on female artists in China who subvert the conventions of ink painting and calligraphy.

Title of Presentation:

‘China Literacy’ and the White Rabbit Collection: a dialogue through art


What is the role of a private art collection such as Judith Neilson’s White Rabbit collection of contemporary Chinese art? This presentation focuses on the art collection as a dialogic cultural archive: through visiting the White Rabbit gallery’s curated exhibitions and its teahouse, Sydney audiences encounter contemporary China as represented by its artists; through engaging with the collection, students and scholars are engaging with China’s history as well as its contemporary complexity.  Through ten recently exhibited works from the collection, we see which aspects of Chinese culture Sydney audiences have experienced, in a process of developing ‘China literacy’.

  • Nicholas Jose (English and Creative Writing, University of Adelaide)

Nicholas Jose is the author of seven novels, three collections of short stories, a memoir (Black Sheep: Journey to Borroloola) and many essays, including the collection Chinese Whispers, Cultural Essays. Much of his writing relates to China and the creative connections between China and Australia. He taught literature in the Australian Studies Centres at Beijing Foreign Studies University in 1986 and East China Normal University in 1987. From 1987-1990 he was Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy, Beijing. He has been a member of the Australia-China Council and the Literature Board of the Australian Council, and was curatorial advisor to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney for the exhibitions ‘Mao Goes Pop’ (1993) and ‘Art Taiwan’ (1995). He has participated in many literary exchanges with Chinese writers, including the China Australia Literary Forum (CALF) from 2011, a partnership between the Chinese Writers Association and Western Sydney University, where he is adjunct professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre. He was Visiting Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University 2009-10. He is currently Professor of English and Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide, where he is a member of the J M Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. He is co-curator of ‘Writing China’, OzAsia/Open State 2017.

Title of Presentation:
A Long Look

This is an occasion for a long look at cultural engagement between China and Australia from the 1980s to the present. As the relationship between the two countries has changed, and the policy settings and economic and social environments too, so have the possibilities and challenges for cultural exchange. What does cultural diplomat Carrillo Gantner mean when he says, ‘In many ways, Australian cultural engagement with China has gone backwards over the last twenty years or so years’?  ‘People-to-people’ communication that builds intercultural understanding and creative interaction has never been more important. With a focus on Australian Studies, literary exchanges and visual art, the presentation reviews the legacy and lessons of an investment for the long term.

  • Sophie Loy-Wilson (History, University of Sydney)

Dr Loy-Wilson in a faculty member of the Department of History at the University of Sydney where she specialises in the history of Australia's engagement with China. Prior to taking up a position in the Department of History at the University of Sydney, she worked as a Postdoctoral fellow in the Laureate Research Program in International History, a Lecturer and Faculty Member at Deakin University and as a research fellow in the 'Contemporary Histories' program at the Alfred Deakin Institute. She has also worked with Chinese Australian community groups to preserve the archives of the overseas Chinese diaspora in Australia. Her first book, Australians in Shanghai: Race, Rights and Nation in Treaty Port China, was published in February 2017. 


What role have historians played in shaping China-Australia relations? Until recently, China did not feature prominently in Australian history writing, but a new generation of historians are now writing China ‘in’ to Australia’s national history.  Who are these historians and what is motivating the rise of Chinese Australian historiography? This paper examines new histories of a shared Sino-Australian past, arguing that historical knowledge about China-Australia relations has been shaped by two distinct groups: academic historians and Chinese Australian community groups. Untangling the tensions and overlaps between these two groups reveal much about what is at stake in the writing of Chinese Australia history. The paper concludes by reflecting on the contemporary deployment of Chinese Australian history in Sino-Australian diplomacy, where the history of personal ties to China allow contentious issues to be articulated on a human scale.