Dispatches from a forgotten war: Australian journalists and China’s Boxer Rebellion
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 19:20 authored by Michael Dwyer
China weighs heavily on Australian public discourse, influenced by perceptions that have been moulded by the stories, voices and images produced by Australian journalists reporting from China. My thesis critically examines the experiences of a group of journalists who were reporting on China at the start of the 20th century and how they interpreted the populous Asian nation for a domestic audience. While most studies looking at the way the Australian media has helped frame our images of China use the 1930s or World War II as a starting point for their analysis, this thesis investigates the importance of those reporters who covered Australia’s military involvement in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900-01. It initially examines the role of the media in stoking anti-Chinese sentiment in the Australian colonies in the 1800s, looking at the part played by jingoistic periodicals like the Bulletin and the Boomerang . The thesis then uses original press dispatches from reporters and editors as part of aqualitative analysis of media coverage of a conflict which has often been referred to as Australia’s “forgotten” war. It will also explore the role played in press coverage of the Boxer Rebellion by George “Chinese” Morrison, a Geelong-born reporter for The Times of London who has been described by many as Australia’s most important foreign correspondent, but whose reputation should be open to more rigorous scrutiny than has been the case to date. Although some source material used in this study has been utilised by other researchers in the past to examine other issues, this thesis provides a new perspective that focuses on the role of the print media in shaping Australian views on China at the time of federation.