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PROF Antonia Finnane


  • Chinese history, 16th-21st centuries; urban society; material and visual cultures; politics of fashion; clothing manufacture and technology. (Tailoring, consumption, shops, Maoism, gender, family)
  • Migration from China; gender; family formation (Race, culture, diaspora)



  • Antonia Finnane is a graduate of the University of Sydney (first-class honours in history), and the Australian National University, with a PhD in Chinese history. Her early research was in the area of urban history, the focus of her prize-winning book, Speaking of Yangzhou: A Chinese City, 1550-1850 (Harvard, 2004). An interest in Chinese urban society has led to major research projects on consumption, resulting in a critically appraised book, Changing Clothes in China (Columbia UP 2008), and essays in areas ranging from fashion to department stores. Current research, funded by the Australian research Council, concerns production and consumption in Maoist China, with a focus on clothing manufacture in Beijing and Shanghai. Her Australian base has also meant engagement with Australia's Chinese history: she has written on Jewish migration from post-war Shanghai, and is at present researching the Chinese community in between-the-wars Perth. Essays on contemproary issues arising from this research have been published in Inside Story, The Conversation, and The Deal. Antonia has studied and worked in China for varying periods in her career, beginning with language study in Beijing in the 1970s, and including a period of five years 2008-2012. More recently, in November-December of each year, she taught an intensive subject to Melbourne University students at Nanjing University. She retired from her substantive position in teaching and research and now holds the position of honorary professorial fellow. She is currently the principal supervisor for five PhD students working in Chinese and Australian history, and associate supervisor for another four, all in Asia-related areas.   


Member of

  • Australian Academy of Humanities. Fellow 2009 -


Selected publications


Investigator on


Education and training

  • BA, University of Sydney
  • PhD, The Australian National University

Awards and honors

  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, 2008
  • The Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Melbourne, 2007
  • The Joseph Levenson Book Award for a work on pre-1900 China, awarded for Speaking of Yangzhou, A Chinese City, 1550 - 1850, Harvard University Asia Ce, Association for Asian Studies (USA), 2006



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Antonia supervises postgraduate research in Chinese history from the Qing dynasty to the Communist era, and in Chinese-Australian history. Past thesis research carried out under her as principal or associate supervisor has included the imperial image of the Qianlong emperor, the Chinese Civil War in Manchuria, Qiu Jin, Chinese restaurants in Melbourne, and religious heterodoxy in contemporary China. She supervises research on dress and fashion in history, Australian-Asian relations, and migration and refugee issues with particular reference to Asian-Australian movements.