Searching for Moon Chow: A Joint Journey

Yu Tao, Benjamin Smith, Petra Mosmann, Kaylene Poon, Betty Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reflects on a joint journey during which three academics, a community historian, and a family historian collaborated in searching for Moon Chow, who is widely narrated as the first documented Chinese immigrant to Western Australia. This experience demonstrates how researchers from various traditions and backgrounds can work together productively despite different initial motivations and agendas. This article presents various Moon Chow stories and narratives that family historians, community historians, academic historians, public entities, and commercial entities have put forward. Rather than judging the soundness and merits of these stories, this article highlights how working with family and community historians results in researchers developing a richer understanding of Moon Chow, telling his story sincerely and sympathetically and preventing the poor scholarship of replacing one oversimplified narrative with another. This article also reveals that family historians may choose to deal with different parts of their family history in different ways to reach different objectives. As a result, their positions, motivations, and identities can be highly fluid, not confined to scholarly paradigms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalLife Writing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Sep 2022


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