Made in Chinatown: Chinese Australian Furniture Factories, 1880-1930

Peter Charles Gibson

Made in Chinatown delves into a little-known aspect of Australia’s past: its hundreds of Chinese furniture factories. These businesses thrived in the post-goldrush era, becoming an important economic activity for Chinese immigrants and their descendants and a vital part of Australia’s furniture industry. Yet, owing to an exclusionary vision for Australia as a bastion of ‘white’ industry and labour, these factories were targeted by anti-Chinese political campaigns and legislative restrictions. Guided by Chinese manufacturers’ and workers’ own reflections and records, this book examines how these factories operated under the exclusionary vision of White Australia.

Historian Peter Gibson uses previously untapped archival sources to investigate the local and international factors that boosted the industry, and the business and labour practices associated with factory operation. He explores the strategies employed in efforts to resist injustice, and the place of Chinese furniture factories within the contexts of Australian enterprise, work and consumerism more broadly. Made in Chinatown argues that Chinese Australian furniture manufacturers and their employees were far more adaptable, and the White Australia vision less pervasive, than most histories would suggest.

Paperback & ebook
Asian studies

Peter Charles Gibson

Peter Charles Gibson is a research fellow in the School of History at Nanjing University, Jiangsu, China.

Sydney University Press

Sydney University Press is a not-for-profit, scholarly publisher of research-based books that engage, inspire and stimulate debate. We believe in the value of research, and the power of books to change the world. Our mission is to enable, support and facilitate the sharing of outstanding research.

Made in Chinatown: Chinese Australian Furniture Factories, 1880-1930
World ex ANZ
Susan Murray