In 1984, Jenny Cushman, in her perceptive article, 'The Chinese community in Australian historiography' made a passionate plea for historians to move away from studies of Australian attitudes to "relocate the Chinese experience within the Chinese community itself" (p. 75). She further urged researchers to investigate the way Chinese customs, legal notions and kinship relations were adapted to the Australian physical and social environment. It is tempting to credit many of the succeeding changes to Cushman's appeal. However, the new approaches must be viewed within the context of the changing tide of historiography and the impact of 'multiculturalism'.


But to say this is to point to wider implications for history making in Australia. The Eurocentric histories of the past cannot simply be corrected by including the 'Chinese', especially if clear ethnic separations based on assumed single identities are maintained. It is necessary to go beyond Orientalist contrasts between us and them, Australian and Chinese, and to engage in a re-examination of sites of difference and dialogue. These sites will show the need to envisage multiple identities. They may also sometimes point to shared experiences of a shared world. Separate histories of ethnic peoples are not enough, especially if they serve to contain and exclude these peoples. Instead there is a need for a new synthesis in Australian history. The *crucial need for historians is to personally engage with the contemporary politics of difference.


Attitude marker

Words or phrases that indicate a writer's assessment of or attitude to an issue.

Emphatic expressions

Words or phrases which relate to the strength of the claim or to your degree of confidence in what is said.

Hedging expression

Word or phrases which make statements about the degree of certainty, possibility or probability of a question.

*Relational marker

Words or phrases that indicate, explicitly or implicitly, the writer's relationship to the audience or the scholarly community in which they are writing.


 NB: Technically emphatic expressions, attitude markers and relational markers are also hedging expressions, but they are described here in terms of their primary function.

There are numerous resources at the UNSW library that can help support you in the writing of your literature review. Please remember that there is no one way of writing a literature review and that it is essential that you discuss your chosen approach with your supervisor.

Text source: Ryan, J. (1997). Chinese Australian history. In W. Hudson & G. Bolton (eds) Creating Australia: Changing Australian history. Allen & Unwin, Sydney (pp. 75, 77)


Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. London, Sage.

Hyland, K. (1999). Disciplinary discourses: Writer stance in research articles. In C. Candlin & K. Hyland (eds) Writing: Texts, processes and practices. London: Longman.

Madsen, D. (1992). Successful dissertations and theses: A guide to graduate student research from proposal to completion. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Phillips, E., Pugh, D. (1996). How to get a PhD: A handbook for students and their supervisors. Open University press, Buckingham.

Punch, K.F. (2000) Developing effective research proposals. London, Sage.

Ryan, J. (1997). Chinese Australian history. In W. Hudson & G. Bolton (eds) Creating Australia: Changing Australian history. Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

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