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Friday 1 November 2013 11:10am

Historical Perspectives

Edited by Barbara Brookes and Dorothy Page

communities_of_womenThe book

The sense of belonging to a community is real but communities are also necessarily, imagined by the people who belong to them. Communities of Women: Historical Perspectives examines how women have perceived and lived in communities. Communities of Women provides insights on how women's lives have been shaped by communities in vastly different times and places.

A series of essays by international contributors range from medieval Swabia to twentieth century Australasia. Anna Davin explores the various communities her mother Winnie belonged to, from Catholic Southland, to university Dunedin and across the world to Europe. Dorothy Page examines the experiences of the first 50 women medical students at the University of Otago: in this often hostile environment mutual support was invaluable. The impact of social regulation on the lives of women in rural Australia between 1880 and 1920 is the subject of Kate Hunter's essay, with specific reference to romance and courtship; heterosexuality and family life were key values that the community held in common. What distinguishes each community is the style in which they are imagined. Many of the communities are small scale. Some of the communities are geographically defined; politics and ideology bind others. Some communities transcend time; others are in a state of flux. Although varied, each community offered a sense of inclusion to its members.

Contributors to Communities of Women are leading researchers and academics from New Zealand, Australia, North America and Britain.

The editors

BARBARA BROOKES is Professor of History at the University of Otago. She has written a book on abortion in twentieth-century England, co-edited two collections of essays on New Zealand women's history, and has edited six other volumes, most recently (together with Tracy Penny Light and Wendy Mitchinson) Bodily Subjects: Histories of Gender and Health (McGill/Queen's University Press, 2015). She is currently completing a general history of women in New Zealand.

DOROTHY PAGE taught History at the University of Otago for 30 years. Much of her research has focused on women's history and biography. Her publications include The National Council of Women: A Centennial History (1996) and most recently Anatomy of a Medical School: A history of medicine at the University of Otago, 1875–2000.


Anna Davin, Jennifer Carpenter, Judith Collard, Katharine Hermes, Alexandra Maravel, Margaret Tennant, Ann Gilroy, Kate Hunter, Barbara Harrison, Melanie Nolan, Marilyn Lake

Publication details

Paperback, 208 pages, 1 877276 31 6, $39.95
Out of print

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