SOPHIS – Historicising a ‘national disgrace’: towards a feminist history of domestic violence in Australia since 1788-Present

Date/Time: Fri 19 May / 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Location: Elizabeth Burchill Room, Menzies Building, E561

Presented by Dr Zora Simic, UNSW

In 2015, Victoria launched a Royal Commission into family violence, feminist activists began a national tally of women who lost their lives and the Prime Minister labeled domestic violence a ‘national disgrace’. His comments followed statements issued in the wake of the 2013 World Health Organisation’s first international study of the prevalence of violence against women, in which domestic violence was described as ‘the greatest social epidemic of our time’. Within this larger context, myself and two colleagues began researching a history of domestic violence in Australia since 1788 to the present.

I will reflect on the challenges and benefits of developing a national history of domestic violence as an explicitly feminist project that hopes to contribute to transnational scholarship and activism. I focus on three of the most pronounced historiographical, methodological and political challenges so far: the difficulties of creating an archive of an often hidden and variously named phenomenon; the imperative for intersectional analysis that recognises for instance, the specificity of Indigenous experiences within a wider history of gendered violence in Australia; and the interactions thus far with those working in the sector about how such a project may (or may not) provide a ‘useful history’.

Dr Zora Simic is a Lecturer in History and Convener of Women’s and Gender Studies in the School of Humanities and Languages at UNSW. She has published widely on the past and present of Australian feminism, among other topics, and is working on a history of domestic violence in Australia with Professor Ann Curthoys (UWA) and Dr Catherine Kevin (Flinders).

For further information, please contact
Associate Professor Julie Kalman
990 52161


Loading Map....