Michael Williams

Michael Williams is a graduate of Hong Kong University, a scholar of Chinese-Australian history and a founding member of the Chinese-Australian Historical Society.

He is the author of Returning Home with Glory (HKU Press, 2018), which traces the history of peoples from south China’s Pearl River Delta around the Pacific Ports of Sydney, Hawaii and San Francisco.

Michael has taught at Beijing Foreign Studies and Peking Universities and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture (IAC), Western Sydney University. His website: Chinese Australian History in 88 Objects was shortlisted for the 2022 Premiers Digital History Prize. Michael is currently working on a history of the Robe goldfield walkers entitled: Every requisite for a campaign upon the gold-fields.


Research Focus

  • Chinese Australian history
  • Chinese in the World (Chinese Diaspora)



Williams, M., 2023, Westy: History of West Wallsend, Lake Macquarie City Council.

Williams, M., 2021 Australia’s Dictation Test: The Test it was a Crime to Fail, Brill.

Williams, M., 2018, Returning home with glory: Chinese villagers around the Pacific, 1849 to 1949 (榮歸故里:太平洋地區的中國僑鄉 1849–1949), Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong.

Williams, M., 2014, A history in three rivers, Dungog Shire Heritage Study, Carste Studio Heritage Consultants, Dungog Shire Council.

Williams, M., 2012, Entertaining Dungog – more than a picture palace, Friends of the James Theatre.

Williams, M., 2011, Ah, Dungog, A Brief Survey of its Charming Houses & Historic Buildings, Dungog Historical Society.

Williams, M., 1999, Chinese settlement in NSW – a thematic history, Heritage Office of NSW, Sydney.


Williams, M., 2023, Villages of the Fragrant Hills in Heritage and History in the China-Australia Migration Corridor (HKU Press, 2023), pp.25-51.

Williams, M., 2020, Smoking opium, puffing cigars, and drinking gingerbeer: Chinese Opera in Australia, In Opera, Emotion, and the Antipodes Volume II Applied Perspectives: Compositions and Performances, edited by Jane W. Davidson, Michael Halliwell and Stephanie Rocke, pp.166-208. Abingdon: Routledge, 2020.

Ely Finch (trans) 2019: The Poison of Polygamy
About the author: Wong Shee Ping
Why is polygamy poisonous? An historical context (co-author Meifen Kuo)

Williams, M., 2004, ‘Would This Not Help Your Federation’, After the rush : regulation, participation and Chinese communities in Australia, 1860-1940, , Otherland, pp.35-50.


Williams, M. & Shen Yuexiu, 2023, Benevolence Returns from across the SeasHistory SA, No. 273, January 2023, pp.9-13.

Williams, M., 2022, ‘Vegetables varied and excellent, chiefly from a Celestial garden’, History, September, pp.9-11.

Williams, M., 2021. Holding Up Half the Family, Journal of Chinese Overseas 17.1, pp.179-195. https://doi.org/10.1163/17932548-12341438

Williams, M., 2020. Stopping them Using Our Boats. Australian Economic History Review, 61(1), pp.64–79. https://doi.org/10.1111/aehr.12207

Williams, M., 2020. Avoid stigmatising them by name. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 106(2), p.165.

Williams, M., 2020. Sojourners & Birds of Passage: Chinese and Italian Migrants in Australia and the United States in Comparative Perspective, 1871-1914. Journal of the European Association for Studies on Australia, 11(2), pp.2-16.

Williams, M., 2006, Departed Friends, Journal of Chinese Australia, Issue 2, October 2006.

Williams, M., 2004, ‘Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta Qiaoxiang‘, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 38, part 2, pp. 257-282.

Williams, M., 2003, ‘In the Tang Mountains we have a Big House‘, East Asian History, vol. 25/26, June/December, pp. 85-112.

Williams, M., 2003, ‘Chinese Australia – the view from the village‘, Locality, Autumn, pp. 17-22.

Williams, M., 2003, ‘Anglo-Saxonizing machines: Exclusion America, White Australia’Chinese America – History and Perspectives, vol. 17, pp. 23-33.

Williams, M., 2000, ‘Observations of a China Consul‘, Locality, Vol. 11, no.2, pp. 24-31.

Williams, M., 1999, “Brief Sojourn in Your Native Land: Sydney links with South China”, Queensland Review, Vol. 6, No. 2.

Williams, M., ‘Brief Sojourn in Your Native Land – Sydney’s Huaqiao and Their Links With South China During the First Half of the Twentieth Century’, Asians in Australian History Conference, Griffith University, June 1999.


Chinese Australian History in 88 Objects

Mirroring the Past: Chinese-Australia in Historical Perspective

IAC Chinese Australian History Seminar Series 1

Book Reviews

Gregor Benton and Hong Liu, Dear China: Emigrant Letters and Remittances, 1820–1980, Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2018.

Shelly Chan. “Diasporas Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration.” Social History, vol. 44, no. 2, 2019, pp. 271–273.

Elaine Lynne-Ee Ho, Citizens in Motion: Emigration, Immigration, and Re-migration Across China’s Borders, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019.

Paul Jones, Chinese-Australian Journeys: Records on Travel, Migration and Settlement, 1860-1975, National Archives of Australia, Canberra, 2005. 286pp.

Tim Jones, The Chinese in the Northern Territory, Diana Giese, Beyond Chinatown and Sweet and Sour

‘Many Inventions’: The Chinese in the Rocks 1890-1930M WilliamsLabour History


Zhongshan County

Wading 10,000 li to seek their fortune: Tung Wah News selections 1898-1901
M Williams
Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation

Chinese Language ConsiderationsM WilliamsChinese Heritage of Australian Federation

Guide for tracing a Chinese ancestor: Using Australian Archives (NSW) files of the Immigration (Restriction) Act.M Williams Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation

State records NSW: Sources for the history of the Chinese in regional NSWM WilliamsGolden Threads