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Travelling for love: Long distance relationships in Australia

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This article draws on four true stories of long distance relationships to discuss how the tangible evidence of long distance love has changed over the past 130 years. The medium for expressing love has passed from hand-written letters and carte de viste portraits to the digital era, which has had a profound effect on the nature and style of communication. The way these respective couples ‘beat the distance’ and the significance of the different modes of contact is examined. Today, romantic communications take on added significance if they are needed as proof of a committed relationship for partner visa applications. After World War II, travelling for love became an international phenomenon, when an estimated 15,000 Australian war brides crossed the seas to join the men they had met during the war. The ideal of romantic love and the feminist response to it is briefly examined. While the material culture of long distance love has evolved to be more immediate, it is not necessarily more intimate nor satisfying.
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Keywords: distance; ephemera; literature; museums; relationships; romance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: State Library of New South Wales

Publication date: September 1, 2016

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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