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Mongolian Octopus

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Year 9 LAS Humanities CAT: Cartoon Analysis Task
‘The Mongolian Octopus’, The Bulletin Magazine, 1886
Racism towards non
Europeans appears commonly throughout
Australia’s history.
During the mid‐
1800s (the gold rush era), Australia experienced a large influx of migrants, particularly from
China and Mongolia.
Published in the
Sydney based, The
Bulletin Magazine, on August 21 1886, “The Mongolian Octopus – His Grip On Australia” was intentionally used as a form of propaganda against Chinese and Mongolian immigration.
The cartoon illustrates an octopus with a human head and eight outstretched tentacles. On each of these tentacles is a different term, such as typhoid or immorality. These terms, along with the octopus itself, all portrayed racist views and stereotypes of Chinese and
Mongolian immigrants.
Task:
1. This is an individual task, but you may refer to notes or discussions you have had in class. 2. You will need to place your copy of the cartoon in the middle of an A3 sheet of paper and paste it down.
3. You will need to annotate the cartoon, making notes all around the cartoon, describing and explaining what the images and text means. Think about the background to the cartoon, and the way the images and words work together.
4. Write an extended response of approximately 500 words that explains the purpose of the cartoon and the background against which it was produced.
5. The annotated cartoon and the extended response must both be submitted for assessment. Use the following questions as a guide to your extended response:
When and where was this source published?
Is it a primary or secondary source? Explain your answer.
What does the title of the cartoon suggest? Why is this title used?
What is your first impression of this cartoon? Is it positive or negative?
What message do you think the artist was trying to portray by putting a human head on an octopus?
Why does the title refer to ‘His’ grip on Australia?
What nationality do all the people trapped in the octopus’ tentacles appear to be?
How is this related to the title?
Explain what is represented on each tentacle – include the text and pictures. What was the artist referring to?

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