ANU Environmental Exchanges Seminar: Claire Lowrie

The first ANU Environmental Exchanges seminar of 2023 will be the following paper from Associate Professor Claire Lowrie (UOW):

‘Hill station for whom?’: Chinese elites, hill stations and contested racial discrimination in interwar colonial Malaya and the Philippines

This paper analyses the experiences of Chinese elites who sought access to the hill stations of Malaya and the Philippines in order to escape the heat of lowland cities. Using a comparative and trans-imperial method, it highlights the particular ways in which colonial categories of race and class influenced the development of hill stations in the tropics. The comparative approach also allows for consideration of how social exclusion on colonial hill stations changed over time and in contrasting ways in the Philippines and Malaya. Baguio was promoted by the Americans as a place where all nationalities were welcome, provided they had the means to make the trip. Manila’s Chinese merchant class and wealthy Chinese visitors from overseas regularly made the trek up the Central Cordillera Mountains. In contrast, the Malayan hill stations of Fraser’s Hill and the Cameron Highlands were developed for use by British colonists. This was controversial, with Chinese elites condemning the amount of the public money spent on developing these hill stations and insisting upon their right to climate respite. By the mid-1930s, the idea of racially exclusive hill station was beginning to be broken down in Malaya. In contrast in Baguio, overt forms of racial discrimination targeting the Chinese community were emerging in the context of heighted Filipino nationalism and claims of Chinese economic competition.

Claire Lowrie is an Associate Professor in History and History Discipline Leader at the University of Wollongong. Her research focuses on the history colonialism and labour in tropical northern Australia and Southeast Asia. She is a Chief Investigator on two current Australian Research Council Discovery Projects that explore those themes. Claire is the author of Masters and Servants: Cultures of Empire in the Tropics (Manchester University Press, 2016) and Colonialism and Male Domestic Service across the Asia Pacific (Bloomsbury, 2019), co-authored with Julia Martínez, Frances Steel and Victoria Haskins. As well as publishing her work in scholarly journals (most recently, the Journal of Historical Geography) Claire is enthusiastic about creating histories that engage audiences beyond the academy. In 2022 she was part of a team that won the New South Wales History Council’s ‘Addi Road Award for Multicultural History’ for a digital exhibition on Ayahs and Amahs: Transcolonial Journeys.

When: 8 March 2023, 12:30-1:45

Where: RSSS Building, ANU & Online via Zoom

Register at ANU Website

Image: engin akyurt at Unsplash