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Approaching a history of pregnancy and interpersonal violence in twentieth century Australia

Event type
Women's History
Event dates
, 5:15PM - 7:15PM
UCL, Wilkins Garden Room
Catherine Kevin (Flinders)
020 7862 8740

Since the 1980s, researchers in public health, medicine and sociology have been investigating pregnant women's experiences of domestic violence. In 2018 Marie Stopes Australia sought to raise the profile of a related form of violence by publishing the White Paper,

Hidden Forces


Shining a light on Reproductive Coercion

. While domestic violence and reproductive coercion have had renewed visibility in Australia in recent years, these phenomena are far from unprecedented. This paper seeks to begin to historicise the relationship between pregnancy and interpersonal violence as it has been experienced by Australian women as part of a larger project on the history of domestic violence in Australia since 1788. It examines questions of methodology before presenting a number of case studies from the pre-1980 period that offer insight into this embodied experience and the discursive effects that have inflected it in a variety of ways since the early twentieth century. 

Catherine Kevin is an Associate Professor in History at Flinders University. She has published on the Australian histories of reproductive rights, maternal loss, refugee mothers and children, and domestic violence. She recently submitted the book MS Relocating Jedda (1955) in Ngunnawal Country: Intersections, Segregations and Colonial Nostalgia. Her most recent publications include 'Creative Work: feminist representations of domestic violence in 1970s Australia', Michelle Arrow and Angela Woollacott (eds), Everyday Revolutions: gender, sexuality and society in 1970s Australia, Canberra: ANU Press (2019) and, with Karen Agutter, 'Lost in Translation: managing medicalised motherhood in post-World War Two Australian migrant accommodation centres' Women's History Review Vol. 27, No. 7, 2018, pp 1065-1084