Fellow will explore post-war lives of Chinese-Australian women

8 August 2014

Daisy Kwok
Daisy Kwok

Dr Sophie Loy-Wilson from the Department of History will travel to China to explore the private Shanghai archives of a Chinese-Australian socialite, thanks to a new fellowship made possible by a donation to the Faculty.

Dr Loy-Wilson, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Laureate Program in International History, is the inaugural recipient of the Australasian Pioneers' Club International Fellowship for Early Career Researchers.

She will visit China and investigate the lives of Chinese-Australian women living in Shanghai around the year 1949. Dr Loy-Wilson will contextualise their experiences in the light of the rise of Communism in China and consider this in the context of Chinese-Australian communities and relations at the time.

In particular, Dr Loy-Wilson will investigate the never-before-seen private archives of Shanghai-socialite Daisy Kwok, a Chinese-Australian woman born in Sydney who moved with her family to Shanghai in the 1920s.

A donation from John Crone made the fellowship possible. Mr Crone said he made the donation to "provide a wider understanding of Australia or an aspect of Australian history
through the exposure of an event or social feature likely to be of intrinsic interest to a wider international community."

He sees Dr Loy-Wilson as an excellent first recipient of the fellowship.

"Australia is now increasingly recognised as knowledgeable about recent history and current 
affairs in Asia, because of its geographical proximity to Asia and contacts in the region," he said.

"The selection of Sophie Loy-Wilson as the inaugural recipient of the Fellowship, based on her interest and knowledge of the lives of Chinese-Australian women living in Shanghai around 1949, is appropriate within this context."

Tess Johnston, head of the Royal Asiatic Society in Shanghai and the late Ms Kwok's friend,will assist Dr Loy-Wilson with her research. Dr Loy-Wilson will also visit the National Archives of Singapore, where other archives relating to Ms Kwok are held.

She will also give a series of lectures and classes at the National University of Singapore on Australian history in a Chinese context. These visits will contribute towards new publications, which have already been commissioned by Routledge, including The Sandalwood Empire: Commerce and Colonialism in Australia and China.