The former Parramatta Female Factory

Project Team: Denis Byrne, Emma Waterton, Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath, Wei Liu, Xiaoli Li, and Tim Smith (Heritage NSW).

Project Support and Funding: Australian Research Council Linkage Scheme (LP180100823), Heritage Council of NSW and Heritage NSW

Current approaches to incorporating the phenomenon of ‘migration’ into Australia’s heritage system tend to identify it as an historical ‘theme’ associated with particular heritage places and objects in particular times. Dating to the 1970s, this approach aims to reflect the distinctiveness of migrant cultures and their experience of travelling to, arriving in and settling in Australia. Couched within a multiculturalist ideological frame that identifies migrants as contributing to, rather than being constitutive of, the nation, it is an approach that is open to critique. Heritage-Making investigates the question of how ‘recent’ migrants experience existing heritage places in the Parramatta Local Government Area (LGA) and how they generate heritage places of their own. It aims simultaneously to empower recent migrants as stakeholders in ‘Australian heritage’ and better equip relevant government heritage bodies to achieve greater inclusion of recent migrants in the public culture of heritage in NSW. In doing so, it aims to better align ‘heritage’, as a field of practice, with the reality of Australia’s cultural diversity. More specifically, the project’s aims are to:

  1. Document heritage-making activities by Chinese and Indian migrants in Parramatta by means of a program of interviews, photovoice surveys and workshops;
  2. Create a sophisticated understanding of how Chinese and Indian migrants in Parramatta understand the idea of ‘heritage’ and how they view and relate to the existing corpus of heritage sites in the Parramatta LGA, which overwhelmingly represent Aboriginal and white settler presence in the landscape;
  3. Increase the ability of Chinese and Indian migrant communities to document and publicise their heritage interests, have them recognised at an official level, and access funding to assist in this;
  4. Provide relevant heritage bodies with evidence-based advice on how Aboriginal and white settler heritage sites can be interpreted and promoted to make them more meaningful and relevant to recent migrants;
  5. Produce a strategy by means of which heritage bodies can facilitate greater involvement by recent migrants in the public sphere of heritage identification, interpretation and conservation; and
  6. Generate a new approach to the category of ‘migrant heritage’ in Australian heritage practice that is honed to the situation of high migrant-density urban areas and that realises the potential of migrant participation in the heritage process as a path to social inclusion.

Sustainable Development Goal/s