Smith, Zoe: ‘The Great Australian Silence’: Sexual violence in Australian history

Zoe Smith

“The Great Australian Silence”: Sexual violence in Australian history‘, History Matters (University of Sheffield), 5 February 2020

From the first establishment of European settlements in Australia, forced sexual relations perpetrated by white settlers have remained relatively unspoken about in recollections of the Australian frontier experience, regardless of the victim’s race …

Although scholarship has evolved over the past two decades to address certain aspects of ‘the Great Australian Silence’, a silence which undeniably excludes or minimises the prevalence of sexual violence perpetrated by white settlers predominantly against Aboriginal women, the scholarship has centred around massacres, genocide and child removal, with no substantial historiography on sexual violence.

Looks at film and literary examples and suggests need for further work by women, particularly Indigenous women in these fields.

On WEH Stanner’s 1968 remark about the Great Australian Silence and commentary thereon, use our Honest History Search engine with search term ‘Stanner’.

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