Unforgetting: national memory and women’s personal narratives about abortion in Australian public spaces since 1970

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Abstract

‘Silence’ is commonly invoked to characterise the place of women’s personal narratives of abortion in public spaces. Yet women have been publicly speaking their abortion stories at least since the beginning of the Women’s Liberation Movement. This article argues that ‘forgetting’ is the better term to describe the public place of women’s stories of abortion. After recovering a 50-year history of public story-telling, it argues that the imperatives of whiteness and white maternal citizenship in Australia underpin institutionalised forgetting of stories of abortion. It concludes that the claim of silence only reproduces the forgetting, and the innocence of white national memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-304
Number of pages20
JournalHistory Australia
Volume19
Issue number2
Early online date25 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Abortion
  • Australia
  • forgetting
  • memory
  • national identity
  • personal is political
  • personal narratives

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