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The term “undesirable” refers to a Home Office fIle HO 213/926 titled “Forced repatriation of Undesirable Chinese seamen”. It’s used to describe a communIty of Chinese migrant workers whose presence is seen as a problem and no longer welcomed when the war ended. In the mid to late 1940s, groups of Chinese seamen disappeared from the streets of Liverpool and were never to be heard from again, leaving behind hundreds of families who lived in the belief that they had been abandoned. The truth of the event was shrouded in secrecy for over half a century and to this day, many details still remain elusive and incomplete.


Working closely with families affected by the forced repatriations and the subsequent fifty years of concealment, the project is rooted in their lived experience as well as ruptures in the wider community. Their disjointed first person accounts come together to form a collective telling of shared experiences, serving not only as testimony to the historical injustice but also intergenerational trauma and lost identity.


In a sense, this series is situated in the gaps of historical records and collective memories. The entire community was written out of history. Their contribution in the war efforts were excluded from historical narratives. The inaccuracy of names in the identity documents rendered them anonymous. They were also erased in the memories of individual family histories, as most of the British wives refuse to speak about them.


This led to my approach of performing interventions on archival materials to make visible the violence and multiple layers of erasure embedded in the archive itself. Drawing from documentary filmmaker Susana de Sousa Dias' practice that "resist from the inside" by turning the archive against the orIginal creators. The interventions manifest themselves visually in various forms, through the layering and juxtaposition of different materials, or the recontextualization of problematic archival sources. The most overt intervention is a series of erasure performed directly on a historical text as a way of subverting the original narrative.

See an 1min excerpt from the film

A mix-media project that looks into the

hidden histories of the Chinese community in post-war Liverpool, with a particular focus on the gaps within archival materials and collective memory.



The Undesirables 

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