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War, gender and reflective Australia: Capturing the shape and form of war experience

By Joy Wallace & Christine Jennett (view full article)

Two women in the militray working on a motorcycle

While I am sure most editors hope that a call for papers for a volume will strike a chord, in this case, we were touched to receive unexpected treasures of remembrance, reflection and scholarly study of the experience of war.  We heard from people who had lived through World War II in Australia and Europe, and from those who had studied prominent women active in Australia in the war years and their aftermath. We were reminded that the art of a country also bears witness to lived experience. We feel privileged to have been allowed to work on all this meticulously documented material, with each piece revealing authentic and moving attempts to capture the shape and form of wartime experience: mainly in words, but also in paint, in stained glass, and in committed activism. The volume focuses on the homefronts rather than the battlefields of war and uncovers fascinating material on the experience of women during war.  We build on the Australian-focused studies of gender and war, begun systematically in 1995 with the publication of Gender and War: Australians at War in the Twentieth Century, edited by Joy Damousi and Marilyn Lake (Cambridge University Press).

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