DAY SEVEN: When Bessie Guthrie met the Women’s Liberation Movement

Writer and Director Catherine Dwyer reflects on the Women’s Liberation Movement and the making of her film, Brazen Hussies.

Catherine Dwyer

Featured image: Bessie Guthrie: Fighter for Underprivileged Girls, Tribune 2 Oct 1973

I first came across the story of Bessie Guthrie and her campaigns for child welfare reforms in an essay by Suzanne Bellamy about MeJane, a Sydney Women’s Liberation Newspaper that ran from 1971-1974. I found it in a book called Things that Liberate An Australian Feminist Wunderkammer (2013) edited by Alison Bartlett and Margaret Henderson. The book is a collection of essays by various women centered around objects from the Women’s Liberation Movement. It became an object in my own ‘Wunderkammer’, acquired during the five years I spent researching and making the documentary film, Brazen Hussies.

Image above: Things that Liberate An Australian Feminist Wunderkammer, edited by Alison Bartlett and Margaret Henderson (2013, Cambridge Scholars Publishing)

In Suzanne’s essay I discovered the hilarious story of Vera Figner, a 19th century Russian revolutionary, whose name was used as MeJane’s ‘Publisher’. As a result, Vera Figner was later found to be a “New South Wales Person of Interest” in ASIO’s surveillance on the Women’s Liberation Movement. This story made it into the film where we also combined ASIO surveillance footage with the pop song ‘Girl Watcher’ by the O’Kaysions – putting an ironic twist on the sexist pastime of ogling women.

‘Girl Watcher’ ASIO Spy story featuring Vera Figner in Brazen Hussies (Film Camp, 2020)

But it was difficult to capture all of the facets of the women’s movement in one 90 minute film, and one of my favourite stories ended up on the cutting room floor. It was the story of Bessie Guthrie’s arrival one day at the MeJane Headquarters. She was armed with folders of documents from her one-woman crusade for child welfare reform that she had amassed over 20 years. She announced to the MeJane collective of radical feminists “I’ve been waiting for you girls all my life.”

Image Details: Bessie Guthrie at Sydney Women’s Liberation House, 1974. Photo by Anne Roberts courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and Tribune / SEARCH Foundation

One of the most significant campaigns [from MeJane] in terms of its success and coverage came in the wake of the arrival of the grand dame Bessie Guthrie … She was in her 60s when she arrived, a tall, elegant woman who came with piles of folders about her campaigns for child welfare reform. It was an astonishing amount of work and took us time to really process.

Suzanne Bellamy, during her interview for Brazen Hussies

Bessie was a local Glebe woman, concerned about the plight of runaway teenage girls and their horrific treatment in state institutions. She would often take them in, her home becoming a makeshift halfway house for runaways.

She fashioned this campaign through MeJane and she gradually allowed us to explore her material and shape it, and then to access what we had, which was the power of numbers. And so we had really important demonstrations outside the Bidura children’s prison in Glebe in which women climbed up on the roof.

Suzanne Bellamy
Image details: Women’s liberationists storm the roof at the Bidura Shelter for Girls in Glebe on International Women’s Day 8 March 1974. Courtesy of Australian History Museum at Macquarie University [Image 42000127]

With the power of numbers, they were also able to attract the attention of ABC journalist Peter Manning, who reported an exposé on the abuse of girls in state care and the barbaric act of forced virginity testing. It was in watching this report that I was struck by how absolutely horrific the treatment of these girls was.

Video: Parramatta Girls Home and Hay Institute for Girls – This Day Tonight (1973)

In a report for the ABC on the Paramatta Girls Home in 1973, Peter Manning discussed the ‘exposure to moral danger’ laws which could be used against girls up until the age of 18:

Annual reports of the child welfare department state that no young men or boys are ever picked up on the charge of exposure to moral danger. It is the section of the Child Welfare Act used exclusively on girls … They are made to scrub the floors of the shelter on their knees every day, ordered to wear a uniform, and they are given a medical examination.

The medical exam included a pelvic examination to determine whether or not they were ‘virginal’. For this white, middleclass, Australian millennial -at least-the idea that the state could compel teenage girls to be physically violated to assess whether they were virgins or not, sounds like something from medieval times, rather than a common occurrence in 1970s Australia. A pelvic examination is not at all a scientifically sound means of testing ‘virginity’.

Image details: Protest at the Parramatta Girls Home, December 9th, 1974. Photo by Anne Roberts courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and Tribune / SEARCH Foundation

The exposure to moral danger law was designed to ‘protect’ teenage girls from having sex out of wedlock, but the punishment was far worse than the crime. Only recently the 2014 The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in institutions revealed horrific stories of physical, sexual and mental abuse of the girls who were taken into state care and put into homes such as Parramatta Girls Home.

Just like the criminalization of abortion, the lack of financial support for single mothers and the pressure on them to give their babies up for adoption, the ‘exposure to moral danger’ law was all part of the gendered violence that controlled women’s bodies, and subjugated them under a patriarchal society. Exposure to moral danger was a crime only committed by poor, often Aboriginal, young women, for no other reason than being born female.

Images Details: Bessie Guthrie (second from right) with members of Women’s Liberation, photo by Pat Fiske in Cauldron vol. 1, no.1, September 1974

Because of Bessie Guthrie’s collaboration with the Women’s Liberation movement, a group of women also made a short film exposing the plight of girls charged with exposure to moral danger. Home, made by Leonie Crennan, Margot Knox, Barbara Levy, Robynne Murphy and Susan Varga features testimony by Toni Wilson, a young woman who spent much of her adolescence in girls homes. The film shows a reenactment of legs going into stirrups from the patient’s point of view. She recounted the following:

The doctor sticks his finger up you. So you can imagine the effect that would have on a thirteen year old child. And a virgin at that. And the doctor saying you know when I resisted purely out of embarrassment, ‘Oh if you don’t lie still we’ll take you to Parramatta and tie you down.’ Completely misinterpreting my attitude, that’s what shits me. An air of defence is just born of fear and bewilderment and you’re penalised for it.

After the episode of This Day Tonight aired compulsory virginity testing was stopped virtually overnight. Eventually the charge of ‘Exposure to moral danger’ was also dropped.

For more information about the “Exposure to Moral Danger” laws and the girls institutions listen to Ann Arnold’s award winning ABC radio documentary from 2009, Exposed to Moral Danger.

For more info on Brazen Hussies:

Web: brazenhussies.com.au
Facebook: brazenhussiesfilm
Twitter: Brazen_Hussies
Instagram: brazenhussiesfilm

Author bio:

Catherine Dwyer is the Writer and Director of Brazen Hussies– an historical dive into the Australian Women’s Liberation Movement 1965-1975. She was inspired to make the film during her time as an Associate Producer on Mary Dore’s She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (2014) – about the Women’s Movement in the United States. During this experience she realized how little she knew of her own country’s feminist history and how easily it was being forgotten. Catherine was nominated for an Australian Director’s Guild Award for Brazen Hussies as well as an AACTA award for Best Direction.  Brazen Hussies was nominated for the 2020 AIDC and AACTA Awards for “Best Feature Documentary” and is listed as one of The Guardian’s top 10 Australian films of 2020.

DAY SIX: I Sing of Arms and the Woman: Gendered Violence in Modern Mythic Reinterpretations

Hazel Atkinson

Featured image above: “Penelope at her tapestry loom with a handmaiden picking apples.” by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Mythic reinterpretations are a hot topic. Specifically, ‘feminist’ reinterpretations, which attempt to give a voice to the women of ancient tales who have, until now, largely been watching from the sidelines. The success of Circe (Madeleine Miller), The Silence of the Girls and The Women of Troy (Pat Barker), A Thousand Ships (Natalie Haynes) and Ariadne (Jennifer Saint) among others demonstrates the current appetite for such stories. We are ready, it seems, to hear something new.

But just how successfully have these myths been ‘reclaimed’? In one respect, it is refreshing simply to hear these old stories retold from a female perspective. To hear Circe’s voice bellow over that of Odysseus, or Ariadne speak for herself; to be addressed by the chorus of Trojan women. But does merely placing words in the mouth of a woman amount to a reclamation?

Gendered violence insistently pervades these retellings, whether in the horrific descriptions of sexual assault, or the casual murder of women as a consequence of wars fought by men. How have contemporary authors wrestled with this?

For Briseis, the narrator of Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls, the answer is no. Barker’s novel does not shy away from the brutal treatment of women as a result of the Trojan War; Briseis watches a ‘woman raped repeatedly by a gang of men who were sharing a wine jug’, and gazes upon the corpse of Polyxena, sacrificed so that Greek men might return to their homeland: ‘the deep gash in her throat made her look as if she had two mouths, both silent. Silence becomes a woman’. Even after Achilles’ death, she acknowledges that it is his tale she has been playing a part in: ‘His story. His, not mine. It ends at his grave.’

Natalie Haynes’ A Thousand Ships shifts between perspectives, encompassing all of the women embroiled in the Trojan War, but returning frequently to Calliope, the traditional muse of epic poetry, as her main narrator. Calliope bites at Homer for his reluctance to narrate the demise of women, lest he slip from his chosen genre: ‘Men’s deaths are epic, women’s deaths are tragic: is that it?’ She too dwells upon the pain endured by the various female characters, and throughout the book achieves her objective of making the ‘hidden women appear in plain sight’, as do all these authors who seek to bring their stories to light. But when those stories are still filled with the violence of war, of rape, of enforced childbearing, how helpful, indeed how ‘feminist’, are they for us as readers today?

As a young, female writer, these are issues that concern me directly. My work in progress is a collection of short stories, which also seeks to rehabilitate several of the women from Greek mythology. In this I have grappled not only with how to address the violence dealt out to these women whilst they are alive, but also with the fact that many of their stories end with suicide. The men who originally penned them were claiming to give them a voice. Written during the first century BCE, the most famous classical example is Ovid’s Heroides, a series of letter-poems, addressed from multiple women of Greco-Roman mythology to their respective male partners. Yet, because the endings of these women have overwhelmingly written by men, it is the male pen which therefore deals out such violence to them again and again. This violence is highly relevant in contemporary society, in which the string of murdered women in modern thrillers or crime dramas mirrors reality: on average, one woman is killed every three days by a man in the UK. Does repeatedly depicting the violence women face, even with the best of intentions, challenge or contribute to it?

My personal response has been to treat these myths as malleable, to reshape them into something which feels relevant to our modern world. Sometimes changing a story can draw attention to issues just as effectively as keeping it the same.

This is the power of ‘what if?’. What if Penelope grew bored of waiting, and decided to deal with the troublesome suitors herself? What if Canace did not hang herself from the rafters? What if Dido threw her memories of Aeneas onto that pyre instead of her own body? What if, what if, what if.

There is perhaps no right way to tackle the subject. In many ways, there is something more honest about the work of Pat Barker compared to the ‘softer’ approach of others; her novels may be bleak, but they are unafraid in their depiction of the realities faced by women in the ancient world. But I believe there has to be change, too. There has to be hope that if these women’s stories can be altered, their violent futures un-carved, then so can our own. That, after all, is the enduring allure of myth. That is the whole point of a retelling.

References

Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls, (Hamish Hamilton, 2018)

Pat Barker, The Women of Troy, (Hamish Hamilton, 2021)

Natalie Haynes, A Thousand Ships, (Mantle, 2019)

Madeleine Miller, Circe, (Bloomsbury, 2018)

Jennifer Saint, Ariadne, (Wildfire, 2021)

Author’s Bio:

Hazel Atkinson is a recent history graduate and writer, currently working on her first book of short stories: a re-interpretation of Greco-Roman myth and is currently represented by Jenny Savill of Andrew Nurnberg Associates. She spends her days working in a bookshop and pottering around Edinburgh. You can find her on twitter @hazel_el_rose

DAY SIX: At the centre and yet forgotten: Violence against women in Oral Narratives

Tanuja Kothial discusses the portrayal of marginalised women and gendered violence in oral narratives and Hindu epic literature.

Tanuja Kothiyal

Featured image above: “Arjuna shooting at the eye of a fish to obtain Draupadi in marriage” source: Wikimedia Commons

Every year I teach a course in Oral Epic traditions in India, aiming to explore the processes through which identities shape up in the performance of traditions among different communities. In the course of teaching, we usually conclude that oral epics provide space to identities which are elided over in the written sources controlled by the dominant groups. However, what we come to see is that hierarchy and dominance remain embedded even in the most marginalized of traditions.

In most oral narratives, often belonging to marginalized groups, portrayal of women and of gendered violence remains caught in stereotypical frames: either benevolent goddesses, mothers, wives who protect families or wronged women, often located outside of marital structures, who become the cause and means of destruction of societal harmony.

Women’s lives are often rendered meaningful through their devotion towards men in their families like that of Sadu Mata in the Devnarayan epic, the mother in the Anananmar epic or Damayanti in the Dhola epic. When denied motherhood or marital spaces, or located outside of familial spaces, women unleash their wrath upon the world and destroy it, like Kannagi from Cilappatikaram, Jaimati from Devnarayan epic, Deval from Pabuji epic, Tankal from Annanmar or Bela from Alha. Then there is the ‘free’ woman, invariably tribal, lower caste or working-class, who is often depicted as ‘loose’, lascivious and sexually available. In the epic traditions all these women are at the receiving end of cycles of gendered and sexual violence irrespective of their social locations.

Among the multitudes of narratives drawing upon the Hindu epic literatures we often find references to women like Menaka, Rambha, Shakuntala, Ahilya, Satyavati, Kunti, Draupadi, among many others subjected to lustful gaze of men, violated and then subjected to a life of guilt and suffering for abandoning children born out of violence. Sometimes, they are erased out of narratives like in the oral epic of Pabuji, where his mother is depicted as a heavenly nymph who vanished when a promise was broken. Alternate readings of the epic suggest the possibility of the mother having been a tribal woman whose identity was erased to create an upper caste identity for the Rajput deity Pabuji.

In several oral narratives we find similar references to forced marriages to tribal or lower caste women, as part of protection treaties. Daughters and sisters were often used as collateral in political treaties. In narratives from Rajputana, women are portrayed as willing participants in the ritual suicides by fire.

Though we do get some references to women refusing to follow men to death, the fear of sexual violence as well as a life of hardship and neglect in absence of any rights outside of marriage, could well have motivated women to seek death over life.

In some narratives where marginalized groups seek revenge it is through inflicting sexual violence upon women, and yet in other narratives it is the danger of sexual violence towards women that is used to justify suppression of lower caste communities.

While the Mahabharata contains numerous references to sexual conquests of the Pandavas, in the Bhili Bharat, an epic of the Dungri Bhils of Gujarat, an episode depicts the rape of Draupadi by the Naga king of the netherworld to spite her husband Arjuna after tying him up. Only in some rare narratives, often referring to goddess traditions, do women faced with sexual violence retaliate, like the Charani goddess Avad of western India who, angered by a king’s insistent marriage proposal, shifted the course of a river rendering his kingdom a desert. In rare instances like in the Bhili Bharat, they emerge as possessors of wisdom and knowledge, as gurus, witches and goddesses, who navigate the events in the face of collective lack of wisdom among the men.

Thus, while we expect oral traditions, which provide voice to marginal communities and groups, to create space for women’s voices, even in these traditions women’s locations remain marginal and mostly with respect to the male figures.

Women’s marginality is ‘invisibilised’ even in the narratives of marginality. The only manner in which they become visible is as ‘bodies’ whose violation or preservation provides cause and context to the actions of men.

Women characters do not escape the cycles of gendered sexual violence. Dominance as well as retaliation to it takes the form of sexual violence upon women’s bodies, imagery of whose brutalization further perpetuates cycles of violence. Women exercise no control over these cycles of violence, irrespective of the side they are located on, as violence is unleashed upon other women to protect their bodies. Women’s bodies are placed at the centre of narratives and yet remain marginal.

Author’s bio:

Tanuja Kothiyal is Professor of History in the School of Liberal Studies, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University Delhi. She is the author of Nomadic Narratives: A history of mobility and identity in the Great Indian Desert (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and co-edited a book ‘South Asian Borderlands: Mobility, History, Affect, CUP 2021) Her recent research project https://www.saltindiahistory.com/people will be published in 2022.

DAY THREE: Voices of Resistance: Women’s Folksongs and Response to Domestic Violence

Garima Singh engages with the everyday resistance posed by women’s folk songs to the dominant social structure and their response to domestic violence in their own melody. 

Garima Singh

Featured image: A group of women assembling to sing together

Ek chup sau sukh

Silence can yield hundredfold happiness

This popular North Indian idiom is often employed to curb women’s free voices. I remember this coming from my mother and my aunts, to my habitually defying objections against patriarchal conduct. Time and again they reminded me and other women around of being subservient to the dominant order and finding happiness as dictated by patriarchal forces.  The memories of this idiom have compelled me to scrutinize the patriarchal world as a seemingly stubborn and in-flexible mechanism but at the same time an easily threatened order that finds risks in women’s free expressions and often works to silence them.  

The motivation of the patriarchal values placed on women’s silence often impelled me to look at women’s voices that the social structure has been so fearful of. In my attempt to recover such voices of rural North Indian women, particularly Haryana, I was driven to recognize the power of women’s voices contradicting the submissive and repressed images that they are often portrayed in. While silence may be a conscious or a non-conscious strategy of self-representation deployed when it is expedient to do so, resistance often comes at multiple avenues.

Far from representing themselves in ways dictated by the dominant, women often imaginatively analyze and critique the social order that they experience and give voice to it in subversive expressive traditions or actions, some more blatantly defiant than others.  

James Scott in his work Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance’ (1985)  highlighted the relevance of everyday hidden resistance posed by the dominated Malay Peasants by often inoffensive behaviour  such as false compliance, clandestine sabotage, slander, and other hidden ways that ultimately posed restraints on dominant structures and debilitated their ability to extract resources from the oppressed.

In my analyses of finding women’s resistance against the patriarchal order, it was interesting to discover that women in their everyday life extend their limited boundaries and challenge the patriarchal society in their own melody.

Women voices can be heard unhesitantly offering firm criticisms to social structure in the local folklores. These collective voices may not pose an apparent threat or an overt rebellion against the dominant but they are the lens to find the women’s deeper consciousness and willingness to lament or resist the patriarchal order in its own way. 

While there is ample evidence of women being subjected to violence within the home and more so coming from a hegemonic masculine society like Haryana, it is exciting to note that women’s voices are not muted to the injustices that they so receive.

Resiliently recognising the wrongs and countering them, women’s songs are a way to understand how instances of domestic violence are often spoken about and addressed in solidarity, with a warning message, although in a different tone. One such song, where a woman resists against the advancements of her brother-in-law, highlights her assertion to respond to such household threats.  

Aadhi raat sikar mein ae mera jeth jiman aaya,

Roti ghal k deyan lag gyi, ae I tedi nazar lakhaya,

Thali bhi mari ae , mane bela bhi marya,

Gail patila uthaya,Rota rota gya bhai dhore, bolya teri bahu ne dhamkaya

My brother-in-law came to have food in the middle of the night,

I served him the food, but he had malign intentions,

I threw plates at him, I threw a rolling pin at him,

And I also picked up another big utensil, Crying he went to his brother to complain against me.

Addressing violence within these melodies not just hints at the women’s domestic miseries, but the voices of revolt show that such responses are registered individually as well as collectively. 

Image above: women assembled together to sing songs during wedding ceremonies

Another such song is sung like a crying narration by a woman who, besides being compliant to the patriarchal expectations. has to face regular violence by her mother-in-law. After her husband leaves for work, she duly performs all the duties expected out of her, but is treated with violence at home. Lamenting over her destiny, she finally lashes out at the mother-in –law and wishes for her family to be cursed.

Hey aape tahe jala naukari digar gaya chodh saas k bharose

Hey saanjhe te mere jetha keh gaya, tadke einkh nalana

Hey neend fikar mein aai kona, saanjhe chaakki jhoyi

Hey atharan ser maine gehun pise, fir makki piswai

Hey pis khot ke gayi khet mein, suraj mandare aai

Hey saara te maine einkh nalaya, pher mirch nalwai

Saanjh hui jab ghar ne aai, saasu ne kari pitai

Eb lagte sasu teri sunu thi, eb sunle tu meri

Sare te thare danger Mario, bhaisayan ne leja kasai

Charo te tere bete Mario, Mario tera jamaiBuddi ri tera Buddha Mario, huio rand lugai

My husband left for his job leaving me under my mother-in-law

My elder brother-in-law in the evening told me to go for weeding of sugarcane

I was not able to sleep due to tension, I started grinding from the evening itself

I grinded 18 kg wheat and then I grinded the corn

After grinding I went to the field, sun was on my head

First I weeded the sugarcane, and then I weeded the Chillies

In the evening when I returned home, my mother-in-law hit me,

It’s enough of you, now you listen to me my mother-in-law,

May all your animals die and may butcher takes away your buffaloes,

May all your four sons die, may your son-in-law die too.

These lamenting voices of women against violence inflicted on them signifies how women have been conscious of their everyday struggle and time and again, consciously and unconsciously, individually and in solidarity, pose a potent threat to the dominant.

These small acts of rebellion may not count as open revolts, but are still visible and loud enough protests to mark women’s expression in a society where voices are given to man alone.

Author’s bio:

Garima Singh is an Assistant Professor at the Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Vivekananda School of Law and Legal Studies in Delhi. She has a keen interest in gender studies, particularly gender and language. She has published on the topics of caste and exclusion and has undertaken ethnographic work on the folk culture of Haryana. Her PhD awarded by the University of Delhi was entitled, The Gender and Politics of Language: Voice of Jat women in Rural North India.

Day Eight | Reflecting on Zimbabwe’s Gukurahundi Genocide through Poetry

Dudu Ndlovu

Zimbabwe

Silence 

Everyone knows of that time

That time nobody wants to go back to

That time that will never be forgotten

That time we never speak of

 

Screams in the night 

Fear gripping the most brave

Nobody wants to witness the shame

Gukurahundi Genocide

 

Daylight brings sunshine and blue skies

Yet the brightest song from the birds

Can never soak away 

The blood drenching the earth 

Calling out for justice 

 

Mothers bear a fatherless generation 

Girls pay with their sexed bodies 

Young men flee for their lives

Fathers killed for their politics

 

Silence labours to erase 

The trace of that time 

But like a woman bewitched

Produces a thousand times more

The stench of death

(Poem by Duduzile S. Ndlovu, 2015) 

 

Zimbabwe, a country on the southern tip of Africa, gained independence from direct colonial rule in 1980. This signalled the end of the liberation struggle; however, people in the Matabeleland and Midlands parts of the country (which were also strongholds for the opposition party at that time) experienced another war, this time at the hands of the army of the newly-independent country. 

The poem above reflects on this period, which is popularly known as Gukurahundi, where 20,000 people were killed or disappeared from 1980 to 1987. Much has been written on the causes of the Gukurahundi violence and most importantly that its victims have not received any acknowledgement or restitution for the pain suffered. Many see the Gukurahundi as a genocide meant to annihilate the Ndebele from Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean government has justified its silencing of the memorialisation of the violence by arguing that speaking about the Gukurahundi will incite ethnic division in the country.

Since the late 1990s, Zimbabwe began to experience economic decline resulting in an increase in the number of those migrating to neighbouring countries such as Botswana and South Africa, some as far as the United Kingdom and other countries across the globe in search of economic opportunities. As people migrate, they carry along with them their memories and trauma across the borders. Some of the victims of the Gukurahundi who migrated to Johannesburg find in it space to commemorate the Gukurahundi – which they couldn’t do in Zimbabwe, where the government prevented such efforts.  

There are calls for the acknowledgment of the Gukurahundi and for the truth about the atrocities to be made public so the perpetrators can be held accountable.  However, a male-centric, ethnic and nationalistic memorial narrative prevails in these memorials and calls for acknowledgement, reparation and reconciliation. Some calls for acknowledgement, for example, demand the cessation of borders to create an ethnically pure nation for the victims. This is despite the fact that many women were sexually violated and conceived and bore children out of the rape, thus making the idea of an ethnically pure nation impossible. Speaking about the sexual violence that many women (and some men) experienced and the presence of children born out of this thus presents an inconvenient truth. 

These calls for acknowledgement therefore do not provide women with spaces where they can speak about their pain from the sexual violence. The gendered location of women, their experience of conflict and how it is remembered is rarely captured and represented in popular memory (see, for example, ‘Gender, Memorialization, and Symbolic Reparations’ by Brandon Hamber and Ingrid Palmary). The above poem, ‘Silence’, which I wrote in 2015, seeks to rectify this, and make visible the ways in which violence is gendered, and how conflict is felt differently on different bodies.

 

Dudu Ndlovu is a postdoctoral fellow at the African Centre for Migration and Society. Her research interests include exploring arts-based research methods as a form of decolonising knowledge production; interrogating intersectionality through narrative work; and analysing the gendered politics of memory. Since March 2018, she has been developing this research agenda through a Newton Advanced Fellowship attached to the University of Edinburgh, Centre for African Studies (CAS) (2018-2020). Dudu completed her PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand focusing on Zimbabwean migrants’ use of art (poetry, music, drama, film) to navigate precarious lives; speak about violence – including the Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe and xenophobia in South Africa, and memorialise those events. More of her poetry can be found here.