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The Green Years: The Role of Abundant Water in Shaping Postwar Constructions of Rural Femininity

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This article offers one of the first studies to pay attention to the influence of abundant rain in advancing postwar agendas and shaping new constructions of rural femininity. Enriching an understanding of modernity, I use oral history testimony and private archives to illuminate women's emotional, social and sensory responses to plentiful water and the possibilities it fostered. While previous tropes had warned that close engagement with the elements would leave women 'unsexed' and drained of feminine vitality, the verdure that characterised the postwar era made the environment appear pliable, acquiescent and drought-proof, no longer threatening but actively inviting women's involvement. Informed by scientific agriculture, the modern rural woman, was constructed as 'feminine' and 'attractive' but also well-equipped to contribute her labour to the forward momentum of Australian farming.

Keywords: Oral history; environmental history; femininity; gender; microhistory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2021) of 0.925. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.902.
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