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China & ANU


This book grew out of a project on the city of Nanking undertaken with Geremie R Barmé and Yayun Zhu 朱亞雲 for China Heritage Quarterly, an e-journal affiliated with the Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW). In 2013, we were preparing an issue of the Quarterly devoted to the dynastic and modern histories of a city celebrated as one of China’s ‘four great ancient capitals’, along with Peking, Sian and Loyang; Nanking also served as the capital of the Republic of China from 1927 to 1937, and again from 1946 to 1949. Geremie, the editor of the Quarterly, was aware that Douglas Copland, the first vice-chancellor of The Australian National University (ANU), had served as the Australian Minister, or chief diplomatic representative to China in Nanking in the 1940s, and that I was obsessed with contemporary Nanjing. He asked me to write an essay on the Australian Chancery in Nanking then (from 1946 to 1948) and now (its present state as the residence of a retired People’s Liberation Army officer), while Yayun suggested that we look through Copland’s papers lodged with the National Library of Australia. What started out as a short essay on a defunct building became an archive-based history project that has resulted both in the present book and an exhibition at the CIW Gallery (29 May–18 September 2015).

As I read through Copland’s papers it became clear that many people were involved in the development of Chinese Studies at ANU, in particular, Frederic Eggleston and CP FitzGerald. My investigations soon led me to the Australian National Archives and the ANU Archives, both in Canberra, and the Mitchell Library, in the State Library of New South Wales. At every turn, Geremie guided and supervised my work on China & ANU, over what has been an extremely busy and, given his precarious health, difficult two years. I am profoundly grateful to him for his dedication to this project (and unflagging editorial enthusiasm), and for the years of support and encouragement that he has given me, ranging over a number of projects, since my days as an undergraduate at ANU.

I am also deeply privileged to have met people with a direct connection to or involvement with the now not-so-recent chapter in Australian-Chinese history that I attempt to recount in this book. I enjoyed many precious hours with William Hamilton, who served as Douglas Copland’s accountant in Nanking in the late 1940s, and then as the accountant, Bursar and finally Registrar at ANU until his retirement in 1978. Mirabel and Anthea FitzGerald shared childhood memories of China and Australia and allowed me rare insights into their father’s early career at the university. Barry Hall’s wife, Diana, and Megan Dick, whose late father, Max Loveday, worked with Barry at the Australian Legation in the 1940s, were supportive throughout the project. William, Mirabel, Anthea, Diana and Megan also generously lent me many of the documents and photographs used both in the exhibition and in this book.

After a few initial drafts of the text, the writer, translator and editor extraordinaire Linda Jaivin focussed her unstinting eye on a full draft manuscript and helped me transform it from being a cluttered, verbose assemblage of archival quotations into a work that could gradually be revised into a readable narrative. I am grateful to Richard Rigby, David Brophy, Linda Allen, Benjamin Penny, Paul Farrelly, Ryan Manuel, Will Zou 鄒述丞, Neil Thomas and Thomas Williams for sharing books, reading my drafts and offering suggestions at various stages of my research and writing. As we prepared the China & ANU exhibition Olivier Krischer and Jack Dunstan kept abreast of the early iterations of the manuscript, and Yasmin Masri, who designed the promotional material and layout of the exhibition with such thoughtfulness and style, also did the layout for this book. I would also like to thank Yayun Zhu and Warren Sun 孫萬國 for composing the Chinese abstract for the book. Both the exhibition and book would have been impossible without the organisation and promotional efforts of Merrilyn Fitzpatrick, Nancy Chiu, Jasmin Lin and Kim Yang at the Australian Centre on China in the World. I am sincerely grateful to have such wonderful colleagues.

I have also received the support of many people outside CIW, in particular Stephen FitzGerald, Wang Gungwu, John Minford, David Walker, James Cotton, Nicholas Jose and Colin Mackerras, all of whom were generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise, helping me gain insights into the complexities and nuances of the period covered in this work. I am also very grateful to John Moffett, Librarian at the Needham Research Institute at Cambridge, for his enthusiasm and kindness in sharing with me the Institute’s remarkable collection of photographs of Joseph Needham, Frederic Eggleston and Lo Chung-shu. I appreciate the work of Margaret Avard and Sarah Lethbridge who helped me navigate a way through the arcana of the ANU Archives. At the Menzies Library, my sincere thanks go to Darrell Dorrington, Rebecca Wong and Friederike Schimmelpfennig for giving access to the Hsu Ti-shan Collection and for arranging the loan of a number of the collection’s treasures for the CIW exhibition. Prue MacKay at the National Archives and Ouyang Dipin 歐陽迪頻 of the National Library were extremely generous with their time in copying and lending documents and photographs. Kay Dancey and Karina Pelling, at CartoGIS in the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific, prepared the elegant maps that grace these pages.

I am deeply grateful to Olivier Krischer and Yasmin Masri for their unflagging dedication to this project, in particular for the long hours they spent with me and Geremie refining and designing this book. Without their efforts neither the exhibition China & ANU, nor this book, would have been possible.

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