The future of gendered pasts: thoughts about emerging research into women’s history in Australia as feminists globally confront attacks on and the regression of women’s rights

Publication Name

Women's History Review


Similar to feminist historians around the globe, over the past few years I have watched on with alternating joy and horror as women’s rights have been variously won and lost, and as campaigners across the globe take to the streets demanding that women’s voices be heard. Transnational solidarity on issues like reproductive rights, evoked by the wearing of the green bandana for example, simultaneously serves to inflate and deflate. It epitomises connections across borders, while reminding us that the need to mobilise is both urgent and widespread. Thinking about the complex political and emotional terrain on which early twenty-first century feminisms operate prompted me to think about how our emerging scholars researching women’s and gender history are doing in the face of the waxing and waning of feminisms and anti-feminisms, and the irrefutable knowledge that historic gains can be consistently attacked and eventually revoked around the world. In this ‘viewpoint’, I use the 2022 Mary Bennett Prize process (awarded for excellence in early career gender history in Australia) as a means for considering the present and future of feminist history in the face of flourishing anti-feminisms and feminisms.

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