Anna Kyi Full Interview
Anna Kyi, historian, interviewed by Lucinda Horrocks. Digital film, Many Roads: Stories of the Chinese on the Goldfields of Victoria, Jary Nemo (director), Lucinda Horrocks and Jary Nemo (producers), Wind & Sky Productions, 2017.Contributors
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In this extended interview Anna Kyi, historian at the Sovereign Hill Museums Association speaks to producer Lucinda Horrocks.
Anna talks about the Chinese stereotypes we have carried through history from the era of the gold rush (the echoes of which can still be seen today), what drove the conflicts and the harmony between European and Chinese miners, the stories behind the poll tax and the residents tax, the Chinese resistance through petitions and other means to the indirect discrimination they experienced, the importance of finding the Chinese voice in history and the need to take a critical attitude towards history and embracing complexity in historical analysis.
The interview took place on the 5th May 2017 in the Store Room of the Gold Museum, Sovereign Hill Museums Association, Ballarat, Victoria.
Lucinda: Tell me about what personally draws you to the story of the Chinese on the gold fields.
Anna: I have a general interest in immigration history, how migrants settle in new countries and how their cultural identity evolves. Within that, working at Sovereign Hill, I had the opportunity to look at Chinese immigrants because we had two new exhibits. One was an underground mine experience, looking at Chinese involved in the quartz mining, and the second one was the redevelopment of the Chinese camp. I had the opportunity to look at a particular migrant group and explore how they had been portrayed, and perhaps some of the stereotypes around their identities, and how the actual history contradicted some of the stereotypes that existed. That's how I came more to focus on Chinese-Australian history, probably more so than other migrant histories.
Lucinda: How have the Chinese migrants been portrayed in this gold rush period?
Anna: They're portrayed predominantly as sojourners. There's this perception that the Chinese would come to Victoria looking for gold, and then once they found the gold, they would return back to China. A lot of them did, but not all. In that particular time frame that we're looking at, the 1850s, it was the colonial era. Their [the colonial] understanding of identity is centred around essentialised identity. Your identity is fixed. There was perhaps a perception for some, not all, but some, that they couldn't change, and they were culturally stagnant, and the other, which the Chinese fitted into, was interpreted as being opposite to Western culture.
Lucinda: The Western eye said, "This Chinese other, they don't change. They're fixed." What was that?
Anna: What was that?
Anna: Basically, I guess you'd say the opposite of the Western culture. It's a binary opposition. For example, Western culture, with the big W, was predominantly Christian, where Chinese weren't of the Christian faith. They believed in ancestor worship. Also, things like they dressed differently. They spoke a different language. Although within Europe there were different languages spoken, those differences seemed to get blanketed out when you contrasted yourself against one particular group.
The things that they were stereotyped for was they had a gambling culture, which was considered a vice. They were predominantly a male migrant group. They left their women back home. That was considered a source of concern, as well. What else? Yeah, mainly the differences in culture, language, dress, but they're pretty much surface to the underlying discontent, which is about the economic threat that the Chinese represented. The Chinese arrived at a time, increased in numbers, about the time surface alluvial gold became scarce. This is the gold that people called easy gold. It wasn't difficult to find, according to some. In 1854, there was around 4000 Chinese coming into Australia, or Victoria in particular, and then the following year, it goes to over 11,000.
You can imagine this type of gold is becoming scarce, which even the lay person can find, and there's increases in Chinese competition, not just numbers but it's also their level of skill. Although the majority of Chinese immigrants or gold seekers were from an agricultural background, some of them worked in mining during agricultural slack seasons, so they had experience in mining as well as the numbers to create that sense of threat. Many of their mining practises were frowned upon by the Europeans, as well. Principally, I would say the underlying threat was economic, and then the cultural differences come on top of that and add further reason for the desire to want to exclude them.
Lucinda: They're starting to come in numbers. This makes the threat more urgent.
Anna: Yes. The animosity of the racial conflict seems to flare up just after the Eureka Rebellion. There's some talk during the commission that occurred after Eureka that if this tax is going to be removed, the goldfields licence is going to be removed or altered, it could open the floodgates, so to speak. They're looking for ways to prevent further immigration happening so that other people, Europeans in particular, get that opportunity to find gold at the expense, I guess, of the Chinese who were excluded or restricted, more so, from that opportunity to find the gold.
Lucinda: What specific restrictions were placed upon the Chinese that weren't placed upon the other general population?
Anna: [On an official level] There was never outright exclusion, saying, "Chinese cannot come here." It was done in subtle although effective ways. The Chinese were expected to pay a 10 pound poll tax upon arrival. The number of Chinese that were permitted to travel on a particular vessel was restricted to particular numbers based on the size of the vessel. It made it financially difficult to find gold, if you have to pay 10 pounds on arrival, and then various other taxes were introduced later on to add further difficulties in their way of making or trying to make a fortune for themselves and to take hold of the opportunities that everyone else had access to.
Lucinda: They found ways around these restrictions, didn't they?
Anna: Yes. To avoid the 10 pound poll tax, many of the Chinese landed in South Australia and then travelled across from South Australia over to Victoria, walked all the way. Some of them landed in New South Wales and walked overland to Victoria. There were various ways of avoiding the poll tax, and the government created or changed legislation to try and stop those or prevent those loopholes or close those loopholes. In 1855, you had the immigration poll tax put in. 1857, you need also to pay a residence ticket. If you can't show that you've paid your poll tax, then you can't get a residence ticket. There's gradually this way of narrowing down those who aren't paying, and also keeping the Chinese, hopefully, in Chinese camps. Chinese Protectorate Camps were another way in which they [the Victorian Government] tried to gather taxes and things like that, and made it difficult for them [the Chinese] to avoid, but some of them chose to live outside the camps. Again, tax evasion was a way of overcoming the obstacles that were put in front of them.
Lucinda: Tell me a little bit about the pockets or the locations where Chinese people would live in the gold fields. You said a little bit about protectorates, but the Chinese people didn't always choose to live in the protectorates.
Anna: Yes..... what do you mean? Where did they live outside?
Lucinda: Yeah, I guess I'm wanting to get a sense of the way ... I probably mis-asked the question. What I'm interested in is the geography of encampment is quite culturally specific, but it's also mixed. There's a melting pot element, too. There's locations where a particular cultural group is known to be, and this happened with the Irish and the Welsh as well, and then the Chinese are known to live in Little Bendigo or Slaty Creek. That became a cultural hub, I suppose. I'm interested. They're very mobile and fluid, because it's where the gold is or where the economics fit.
Anna: I haven't done a lot of research on the geographic location of all the Chinese encampments. The Chinese protectorate camps that I am aware of are predominantly located in Ballarat East. There was one at Golden Point, which is on the Llanberris Reserve not far from the Gold Museum. There was one in Stawell Street and Clayton Street, as well, but there were more than that. There's a suggestion that there could have been around 11, and as you said, there was Chinese out in Little Bendigo, as well.
What's interesting in terms of understanding the Chinese presence in Ballarat today is that it doesn't seem as strong as other places like Bendigo. That's possibly because they were not as far away from the centre hub in Ballarat East. They were pretty much located in or close to Main Street, Main road. Main road used to be the main business district of Ballarat until the train arrived in 1861, and central Ballarat moved up to Sturt Street. When that happened, you see many of the shops in Main Street being run by Chinese.
There seems to be a bit more social fluidity between the two, and possibly crossovers with working-class Europeans and Chinese working relationships, interracial marriages, and that type of mixing going on as well, possibly to the extent that we don't have a really strong Chinese presence compared to what Bendigo has. There's also the various factors that can influence that. There's evidence to suggest that the type and the way in which mining progressed, it wasn't as competitive here between the Europeans and the Chinese compared to Bendigo. That type of, as I was saying, economic competition before that triggers the racial sentiment, is stronger possibly in Bendigo than it was here. I'm not saying that racism didn't exist, but to different levels.
Lucinda: It was mapped out differently according to what the geology said, which then interacted with the economics, I suppose, and the social life.
Anna: The geology creates different opportunities. After Eureka, not all of the gold had been worked over. The regulations that came in made it easier to look for gold, and so there wasn't that competition between the Europeans and the miners, but we had a lot of deep lead mines in Ballarat. Not so much in Bendigo. Different levels, different types of mining, I think could possibly have a different effect on different race relations as well. Up in the Northern Territory, Chinese were involved in tin mining, and there doesn't seem as much hostility up there as down here in Victoria. There's things to consider like that.
Lucinda: What are other common misconceptions that we have of that period that are wrong?
Anna: I guess possibly I've mentioned one, the sojourner, that they all returned back home to China. That creates difficulties for people who are of Chinese-Australian descent now, because where do they fit into that narrative? What's their story? For a long time, because of the discrimination that Chinese faced and Chinese-Australians faced, people from those families were taught to deny that heritage.
Yes, it's more a case of that stereotype, that misconception that they wouldn't change or settle in Australia would be that what's the place of these people who went against that stereotype. Stereotypes are sometimes put in place by images that we see of that era, the 1850s era, with Chinese in typical Chinese clothing, and Chinese hats, no shoes, etc., whatever it might be, versus Chinese being encouraged to, shall we say, assimilate or adopt Western culture so that they will fit in. This encouragement came from the societies that enabled them to settle and helped them to settle, Chinese societies that helped the migrants to settle in Australia, or in Victoria in particular. I don't know whether I've answered your question.
Lucinda: No, you did. Are you aware of actual examples of second-generation entrepreneurs or family stories? Have you got those sorts of anecdotes that you might?
Anna: More so relating to the quartz mining sector with the Woah Hawp Canton Mine. People like James Wonglep came over during the initial gold rush, and settled, and married an Irish woman, had children here, and then he became an investor in the mine. His children became involved in working at the mine. The investors in this mine were a broad array of Chinese people, from merchants to market gardeners to farmers to miners, showing that they were willing to invest in this type of venture.
One of the stereotypes was that they wouldn't become involved in quartz mining because it was a long-term venture, and the Chinese wanted to find their gold quickly and then return. Those types of stereotypes say that Chinese are scared of going underground because of fear of underground gods and spirits and things like that. That's why you don't see Chinese involved in quartz mining as much as Europeans. Often, that hides the legislation that kept them out of that type of mining and that involvement in that aspect of mining.
Lucinda: We've talked about the poll tax and the resident permit.
Anna: Yeah, residence tax.
Lucinda: Residence tax. What other legislative forms of discrimination did Chinese face?
Anna: I've mainly focused on that immigration legislation that was designed, where they're using taxes almost as weapons to discourage Chinese immigration, but I guess are you talking about racial conflict or examples?
Lucinda: You just talked about the way that certain types of business were discouraged, that Chinese had faced bigger barriers to, say, do quartz mining than others. Why was that?
Anna: Why were they excluded, are you saying?
Anna: Economic competition. If the Chinese were successful at quartz mining and settling there, then obviously competition in terms of enabling non-Chinese to be more successful and effective. There's probably all different types of discrimination in different ways, not just legislation, that you could look into, but that's not what I've focused on.
Lucinda: Tell me the stories that are in the petitions. We've had a look at some of the petitions. There's some beautiful ones on display at MADE at the moment.
Lucinda: Each one of those petitions tells a story about protests and community, doesn't it?
Anna: Yes. I guess one of the challenges of looking at Chinese-Australian history and trying to overcome the stereotypes is actually getting to the Chinese voice and understanding the Chinese perspective. That challenge exists partly because the Chinese didn't leave many records. It can sometimes exist because those rare records that are in Chinese, if you don't have the skills to translate them, that's another barrier.
Also, the dominance of the Western stereotype. These petitions, which were against the anti-Chinese immigration legislation, they were signed by numerous Chinese coming from different districts of Victoria. They rolled out every time there was a legislation change relating to it. It's a unique opportunity to get to the Chinese voice. They're protesting. They're saying basically, "Why are you imposing this tax on us? We deserve to be treated equally, the same as everybody else."
They're also taking the opportunity to challenge some of the fear mongering that's going on in relation to the Chinese, such as rumours about their gambling, criminal activity. They put forth that, "There's no more evidence that we've got criminal activity happening in our group compared to other groups." They're openly challenging those accusations. They're explaining some of the cultural misconceptions that are occurring, like why don't you bring their wives here and settle here. You can see where that's coming from in terms of fears of racial miscegenation and mixed children, but they're saying, "We won't bring our wives here because they're too fragile. They can't travel long distances."
They're trying to dispel some of the myths, and they're trying also to fight for their rights and equality, as well. In doing so, they're challenging the perception that they are passive and willingly take what people, I guess, dish out to them in terms of what other people thought they deserved. There is also the stereotype that Chinese were passive victims and they just let people do things to them, but they fought back, just in the same way as the miners fought back against the gold fields licence, and that being considered as an unjust tax. The Chinese fought against, protested against, the taxes that were imposed on them and made life difficult for them, as well.
Lucinda: We've talked a little bit about how there's pathways through democracy or that they're learning, they're becoming more sophisticated in their political protest through the petitions, as well.
Anna: Yes. What's happening is that the Chinese are using Western forms of constitutional protest. They're speaking the same language as the dominant culture, and therefore hopefully communicating effectively, and therefore trying to change something in their lives, something that they find to be oppressive. Part of the problem was that due to changes in our government during that period, they start sending petitions to, say, the Governor, who is the representative of the Queen here, but in our time, in the mid 1850s, the Legislative Assembly comes in place. The petitions that are sent to, say, Governor Barkly don't have the same effect as they would if they were sent to the Legislative Assembly. It takes them a little while to nut that out and figure that out, and then they start using the appropriate channels.
In terms of understanding their protests, I've pointed this out before, they weren't alone. There were Europeans who supported them, and that's a very important side to understand. It wasn't just a case of us versus them. There were various reasons and motivations for Europeans to either support the Chinese in their own protests or to send petitions to government saying that, "We don't want the Chinese to go." Those motivations vary in terms of economic considerations, like if the Chinese left a community like Ararat, for example, where they were the predominant group, then a lot of European businesses would suffer, to motivation where there was a genuine sense of concern for Chinese interests, perhaps more so reflected in the views of Chinese Protector William Foster, where he tried to rewrite laws for the Chinese and signed petitions together with the Chinese, as well.
Lucinda: What was the thing that surprised you the most in undertaking this research?
Anna: What surprised me the most was that the actual European support for the Chinese, and looking at the different motivations for it, not just saying, "It's all about the money." In some cases it is the economic considerations, but it's not always about that. Also, what surprised me was the diversity of voices in the petitions. There was a period of time when the Melbourne Chinese were saying, "Why are you imposing this tax on us? We don't live on the gold fields. Why are you imposing these laws on us? If the same thing had been done in the Eureka Rebellion but the Europeans in Melbourne were blamed for it, it wouldn't have been taken the same way."
There's been a tendency to see the Chinese voice, if there has been a Chinese voice, as one and the same, and that's it. There is a diversity of views and opinions, and they've used different arguments over different time frames and different districts. Some of them were willing to pay less taxes where others didn't want to pay any tax at all. Those differences often get overlooked when we're looking at stereotypes. Everyone's homogenised and seen as the same when they're not. The area of difference was fascinating to me.
Lucinda: Were there any favourite characters or locations or businesses that you have a soft spot for?
Anna: I'd have to say William Henry Foster, the Chinese Protector in Ballarat, was very interesting in terms of his willingness to assist the Chinese, and as I mentioned before, to rewrite laws to make things easier for them, and to go to bat for them, to reclaim sometimes mining sites that they lost because they hadn't paid the tax. That was unexpected. His sense of justice and fair play is across the board, not just from what I know of him and understand of him specific to his own economic interests. That those feelings of social welfare and concern can exist at that time is quite interesting, as well.
Lucinda: Yeah. You're talking about an era without the safety net.
Anna: Yes, definitely. He's one that stands out particularly in my mind, but other people who stand out as crossing cultural boundaries, shall we say, and crossing back when they need to, I like looking at that flexibility of cultural identity and how people adapt and change. People who took on the role of Chinese interpreter, facilitating the protectorate system and the challenges they met, and what led them to that position, as well.
Lucinda: All of these stories are really counteracting that very first stereotype that you mentioned, which is that the Chinese who came here were unable to change. They were fixed in their identity.
Anna: Yes. A lot of it, yes. By picking out identities and characters or historical figures where their cultural identity changes, it's one way of challenging those stereotypes, whether it's because they choose to settle in Australia, they choose to marry someone of a different culture, they choose to take up a Christian faith. Not to say that they should have to do those things, but that they choose to, and they can, and it's their choice to do it. To what extent they did it to gain acceptance is another question altogether. At what point does someone say, "This is what I'm choosing to do, and this is what is forced on me," I think depends very much on the individual and different historical contexts, as well.
Lucinda: If you had to give a very overall explanation of the journeys that the Chinese migrants took, how would you describe it? How do you see the journeys that the migrants took?
Anna: In some cases, I don't see them as being any different to the journeys that people took when they came here to find gold, and they came here from Europe. There's a similar aspiration to escape poverty, social and political conflict in their old country, in their hometown, and this desire and search for a better life. That makes it difficult to understand why they couldn't develop a sense of empathy for each other, but at the same time, when someone's success means that you're missing out, then you begin to understand where the conflict comes from.
In that regard, the hopes and the dreams were the same, and the experiences of having hardship back home were the same, and the hardships in mining here, the difficulty of mining. People portrayed it as being easy to find gold. It wasn't necessarily easy, but their journey, the Chinese-Australian journey, is different because of the way in which they were excluded, deliberately singled out to avoid, to keep them at a distance and to minimise numbers so that other people could look for gold.
Europeans didn't have the same obstacles in terms of taxes. They had a gold fields licence, but that was removed in 1855, and then they could go on. I think there's elements of the journey that are the same. There's opportunity to feel empathy for one another. As I said, the Europeans faced a harsh tax, why couldn’t they understand the same thing was being done to the Chinese, but it depends on to what extent the group is willing to empathise when their own personal interests are at stake.
Other than that, I think for the Chinese-Australians, it's probably been more of a harder journey to find ways of belonging and fitting in. Even though they might have undertaken activities, whether it was deliberate or not, that enabled them to strive for that sense of belonging, there's always the potential to have it thrown back in their faces that they're not there. That moment can change at any time or any point in history, depending on how the outside world is feeling.
Lucinda: There's a vulnerability that they experience to that kind of pressure that the others don't.
Anna: Whether they belong or not?
Anna: Yeah, I think so. I think it can still happen, today. Racism can flare up all of a sudden. It's not a constant, but it's always underlying, depending on what tensions working out there in the real world sort of thing, whether people want to bring it up. When it does come up, it often brings back all those stereotypes that emerged in that 1850s period, and reforms it in different ways. That's why I think it's so important to understand the racism that evolved during the gold rush era, because it emerges at various times throughout Australia's history yet again and again and again. Not always as a constant, but different periods.
Lucinda: It flares up.
Anna: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You look at federation, 1901, where Chinese again, they want to exclude Chinese people from immigrating to Victoria, and people who don't fit the racial ideal, I guess. They don't outwardly, openly say, "Here is a list of the different cultures that can come in, and here is a list of the different cultures that can't come in." There's no list made up, but it's done indirectly through a dictation test. Taxes are an indirect way of doing it, as well. The pattern and the tone of discrimination that's set in the 1850s is the pattern and tone that's set in Australian history, of those indirect methods of exclusion when not being outwardly racist but somehow finding the means when needs be, sort of thing.
Lucinda: You alluded earlier to Chinese-Australian families, second generation, third generation, that might have been encouraged to hide their ancestry in order to fit into this new perception of what Australia should be.
Lucinda: What impact does that have on our perceptions of ourselves as Australian, our perceptions of our history, and the cultural diversity of our history?
Anna: I think in multicultural Australia, we're encouraged to find an ethnicity that we have. Sometimes that process is forced. Sometimes it comes naturally. It's made it easier for people or the descendants of those Chinese-Australians to want to access those histories and ask relatives, but sometimes because those relatives come from a period of time where that wasn't allowed or wasn't encouraged, they don't want to share. That has to be in some way respected.
I think there are challenges in terms of writing a multicultural narrative of Australia where everyone fits into a story. We often tend to go, "What did that migrant contribute?" That's justifying your position in Australia. You have to justify it, otherwise what right do you have? What I call contribution history, where I think more complex histories need to be written about how people coped and adapted and changed. Sometimes we can't force those who were second or third generation Chinese-Australians or Italian-Australians, whatever. You can't force them to have a cultural identity that they may well not have anymore, because they've never been back to China or Italy, or they may have. It really depends on not where you're from but where you're at at a particular stage.
How you write that into a grand narrative about Australian history is a massive challenge but probably a very interesting one in terms of including everyone belonging to two places or sometimes belonging just to here. By third generation you might find Chinese-Australians joining the war effort and that type of thing, and yet they're not allowed to do so until time passes and they are. They probably wouldn't have seen themselves as Chinese, because they hadn't had that experience of being in China, or the parents had become so Westernised that it would be hard to live that culture, but as I said, the outside world is forcing them to be something that perhaps they're not anymore, or never were to begin with. This is so complicated.
Lucinda: Those Chinese ANZAC stories that we're starting to see more of, yeah, they just wanted to join the war effort like everyone else. They weren't trying to prove a point.
Anna: Maybe not. I guess if it was thrown up in your face that you don't look like one of us, and that you wanted to make a point, that probably was there for some, but I haven't looked into that side of history enough to comment on it. Once you move to another country, you're translated, and you can't necessarily go back to the way it was. If you've had no contact with that culture, ongoing contact, then it makes it harder to live up to that ethnic identity for some. It depends on various families and how different families are brought up, that type of thing.
Lucinda: I love this idea, once you move you're translated. We're all in a translation. It's an ongoing thing, isn't it? There's no fixed identity for any of us. Why would we assume that Chinese migrants have to conform to some?
Anna: In some ways, it's about a feeling of a need for our own security. If I know what you are, and I've got you in that box, then I know who I am, but if you change and don't play the rules of the game, and say you're something different, then who am I? I have to change, or I'm not who I thought. If it's about power relations, as the colonial mind really was, Western, other, then if the other says, "I'm not who you think I am, I'm different," then the power of the Western culture is undermined. It's about that threat of having the other person's position undermined as well.
Lucinda: Without falling into a contribution history, what can we see that is there to celebrate about the experience that we now all share in this foundation of Australian identity, the colonial period? What is there to celebrate in this experience?
Anna: I'm not necessarily ... I don't have all the answers, and it's still something that I think about a lot, but I don't think necessarily we have to have a celebratory history all the time. I think history needs to be looked at in different ways for different stories and lessons that can be learned. If you try and force everything into saying everything should be a celebration, not that I want everything to be black armband history, but I think if you look at a history of how different cultures interact, and how they came to understand one another, or didn't come to understand one another, then that can potentially have lessons, and hopefully prevent disharmony in the future in that way.
It's like the history of the biggest and the best. Is that the best lens to look through history all the time? Not necessarily. It's just one of many lenses that you can use, depending on what you want to get out of history. I understand for national histories, you often want to have that celebration, and that the bigger and the best kind of thing, it's a part of our need to feel proud of ourselves, but that desire sometimes outweighs the value that can be obtained from looking at history in other ways.
Lucinda: Do you have a favourite artefact or object that you like?
Anna: I have to say the Chinese petitions when they protested against the legislation. It's just such a rare, unique perspective that offers a strong voice, and a voice that stands out against all the stereotypical understandings of what they were, and them saying, "We're not like this," or, "This is the reason why this happened. It's not the justification you're giving it." Yeah, that'd be my most interesting, fascinating, or favourite objects rather. There's a few of them, not just one.
Lucinda: When you were going through the questions and looking at our project, what are you hoping that it will be able to say to an audience?
Anna: What am I hoping it'll be able to say? I'm hoping that in the particular format that you're going to present it, that has a broader ability to access the general public. This conversation about Chinese-Australian history has been going on for quite a while now between academics, and that's important. You need the groundbreaking research, but to get to a level where it's getting out to the general public, whether it be through museums or whether it be through schools, and they're using these resources to rewrite and rethink Chinese-Australian history, that's where the difference starts to begin.
Not everyone studies history at university level and gets to ask the bigger-picture questions, but that has a greater chance of happening if the history textbooks include these stories, if there's resources out there that are made user-friendly and accessible to high school students that might lapse back into stereotypical understandings because there's nothing else on offer. It's really, really important to put it in media formats that have that high accessibility to those groups.
Lucinda: If you're imagining a secondary school student or just someone coming across this story, what questions would you like them to leave asking?
Anna: What questions would I like a secondary school student to leave asking? I'd like them to constantly question the stories they're being told and why they're being told those stories. I could say, "The stereotype existed," and I could say, "It shouldn't exist," but there was a reason why it existed, and when you look at myths and why they exist, it can often tell you about broader social relationships and insecurities. Not just that it's not fact, it's, why does someone want to believe that? What's in it for them to believe that way? Just to have a more open mind about how history can evolve, and to know that history is always a selective process.
We choose what we want to remember and what we want to interpret from the past, and there's no avoiding that. You can't tell everyone everything at once. That process of selection always happens, but to have that critical thinking about, why am I being told this story? What's in it for the other people? What impact might this story have on social relationships? I think they're the questions that I'd like students to think about, and to always think, "Is there something more?" Then they're always learning.