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The High Road to the Near North: Origins and Development of Sinology in Australia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2023

William Sima*
Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
*Corresponding author. Email:


The development of Sinology in Australia was contingent upon, and serves as a lens through which to view, a number of transformations to Australian society in the middle decades of the twentieth century, as the country sought independence from the “Mother Country,” Great Britain, and reoriented itself towards Asia. These include Australia's first forays into independent international diplomacy and the introduction of the Ph.D. degree and postgraduate research in the university system—culminating in the first Australian postgraduate work on China in the 1950s. While government support has always been crucial to the enterprise, from the early years until today scholars have defended the Chinese humanities against the utilitarian “national interest” proclivities of governments. Adopting a broad definition of Sinology, one which encompasses post-war trends in “Chinese Studies,” this article surveys the universities that have been important to Sinology, the scholars who worked in them and the ongoing challenges to the discipline.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press

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