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Gender, place and travel: the case of Elsie Birks, South Australian pioneer


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Stratford, E ORCID: 0000-0001-6273-493X 2000 , 'Gender, place and travel: the case of Elsie Birks, South Australian pioneer' , Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 66 , pp. 116-128 .

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In 1894, a young South Australian teacher named Elsie Birks travelled from metropolitan Adelaide to the margins of the Riverland with her family to establish a utopian socialist settlement. From 1894 to 1897 she kept diaries of her life in Murtho, and wrote numerous letters to friends and family—colourful observations of her community, and how constituted itself and its place. Here I present an analysis of these documents, and other letters penned in 1945 that record her reflections on this earlier time. I map the colonial visions of Elsie Birks, and do this by exploring the terrain on which the Murtho experiment took place, outlining the trajectory of the village settlement movement in general and Murtho in particular. I then draw connections between Birks’ Murtho and contemporary ideas about the relationships among story telling, gender, travelling and the significance of place. The significance of the work lies in its capacity to contribute to ongoing inquiries about the everyday, a central element of geographies of culture and gender.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Stratford, E
Keywords: gender and geography; colonial women; story-telling; travelling; place; utopian settlements;
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Australian Studies
ISSN: 1444-3058
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