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Migrants and technological transfer: chinese farming in Australia, 1850-1920
journal contributionposted on 2017-06-08, 05:54 authored by Warwick Frost
Chinese farming in Australia between 1850 and 1920 has generally been given little attention, being usually characterised as just market gardening, but with little other detail especially about its development and characteristics. This article argues that Chinese farming was both complex and dynamic. Initially Chinese farming was primarily casual labouring along European lines. However, from the 1880s onwards, Chinese farming became more specialised, focussing on a wide range of high-value, labour-intensive crops. The skill of the Chinese was not just the transference of farming techniques from China, but also in their entrepreneurship and ability to adapt their techniques to the Australian environment. Despite widespread European racism, some Europeans sought to capture the benefits of Chinese farming, developing European - Chinese partnerships. After 1900 Chinese farming declined in scale and diversity. The adoption of labourintensive techniques by European farmers led to a decline in European-Chinese partnerships and the squeezing of Chinese farmers out of niche markets.