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Our Neighbors but Not Our Countrymen.: Christianity and the Chinese in Nineteenth-Century Victoria (Australia) and California

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the United States of America and the British colonies of settlement in Australia shared the experience of gold rushes and the arrival of large numbers of immigrants including the Chinese. In both countries, the long-term impact of European imperialist expansion from the sixteenth century and the Anglo-Saxon dominance of the nineteenth-century world was inseparable from a wealth of explanatory theories about ethnicity in which culture, religion, and race contributed to a major (if unsubstantiated) corpus of evidence shared by the Anglo-Americans. The discovery of gold in 1847 in California (Gum San, Chin Shan—Gold Mountain) was followed by the 1854 gold rush to Victoria, Australia (Dai Gum San, Hsin Chin Shan—New Gold Mountain). The similarity of names indicates how close the connection was in Chinese minds at the time. This paper discusses one little-known aspect of the triangular relationship between China, America, and Australia during the second half of the nineteenth century—attempts by Protestant Christians to evangelize the Chinese immigrants.


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