White Women, Aboriginal Missions and Australian Settler Governments

Maternal Contradictions


In White Women, Aboriginal Missions and Australian Settler Governments, Joanna Cruickshank and Patricia Grimshaw provide the first detailed study of the central part that white women played in missions to Aboriginal people in Australia. As Aboriginal people experienced violent dispossession through settler invasion, white mission women were positioned as ‘mothers’ who could protect, nurture and ‘civilise’ Aboriginal people. In this position, missionary women found themselves continuously navigating the often-contradictory demands of their own intentions, of Aboriginal expectations and of settler government policies. Through detailed studies that draw on rich archival sources, this book provides a new perspective on the history of missions in Australia and also offers new frameworks for understanding the exercise of power by missionary women in colonial contexts.

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Joanna Cruickshank, Ph.D. (2007), University of Melbourne, is Senior Lecturer in History at Deakin University. She has published widely on the history of evangelicalism in Britain and Australia, including Pain, Passion and Faith: Charles Wesley in Eighteenth-Century Methodism(2009). Patricia Grimshaw, Ph.D (1986), University of Melbourne, is Professor Emeritus in History at the University of Melbourne. She has published numerous articles and books on women’s history in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, including Paths of Duty: American Missionary Wives in Nineteenth Century Hawaii (1989).
List of Maps


1 Mission and Marriage in Early Colonial Contexts

2 Mothers and Daughters in Victoria

3 Wives, Widows and Sisters in Far North Queensland

4 Single White Women and Faith Missions

5 Beyond Protection in Southeastern Australia

6 Teachers and Nurses in the North


Historians, missiologists and theologians interested in the history of Christian missions and Australian history.
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