Bathurst’s Dr Juanita Kwok won the Max Kelly Award at the HCNSW Annual History Awards which were were announced at a ceremony on Tuesday, 6 December, 2022
at the State Library of NSW.
The Max Kelly Award of $500 is given annually to an early career historian for a work of excellence in any aspect of Australian history. The Award was established as a tribute to Associate Professor Maxwell John Kelly (1935-1996), the first elected President of the History Council.
The winner of the 2022 Max Kelly Award is Dr Juanita Kwok for her article The Lambing Flat Riots and the Chinese Quest for Compensation.
The Lambing Flat riots, in which Chinese miners were violently driven off a goldfield is a well-known incident in Australia’s history – particularly as it also marked the start of anti-Chinese immigration laws. But what Juanita Kwok uncovers from her assiduous research is a rich history of Chinese agency and persistence in seeking justice and legal redress for their losses. Indeed, Kwok puts the June 1861 riots into a longer context of European harassment of Chinese miners across the goldfields, but also the surprising efforts of those miners to use the law to fight back.
While their compensation claims ultimately went largely unpaid, Kwok demonstrates that savvy miners were responsible for getting a hearing for those claims in the first place. In doing so, Kwok also reveals a rich archive of sources on individuals and families connected to these events – an archive that will help enrich the work of all those involved in recovering the oft-neglected multicultural – and racist – past of Australia.