Country women and the colour bar is a timely corrective to established ideas about race relations in rural New South Wales by revealing the untold story of grassroots efforts by Aboriginal and white women, working together.
In the 1950s and 1960s, in towns across New South Wales, Aboriginal women joined specially created Aboriginal branches of the Country Women's Association. Country women and the colour bar offers insights into the experience of ordinary Aboriginal and white rural women as they participated in beauty contests, cookery, handicraft lessons and baby contests. It reveals how Aboriginal assimilation policy met everyday reality as these rural women broke with the established segregation in an unprecedented fashion.
Working together the women made significant gains for Aboriginal communities prior to Aboriginal people's widespread access to citizen's rights. Some prominent Australians feature in these extraordinary stories: Jessie Street, Charles Perkins, Rachel Mundine and Purth Moorhouse. Using a biographical and highly accessible approach, Country women and the colour bar is an exploration of the role of women in maintaining and challenging the colour bar.
About the Author
Dr Jennifer Jones is a lecturer in Australian Indigenous Studies at La Trobe University, Australia. Her research interests include Indigenous Australian history and biography, Indigenous Australian Literature, cross cultural collaboration, rural and religious history and histories of education.
"Over the past decade or two, assimilation has been a highly contested theme in historical investigation. What was it, what did it mean and what were its practices and legacies? Jennifer Jones offers a fresh approach because she takes us straight to the heart of the lived experience for black and white and to the coloured minutia of country life and domesticity, arguably the raw edge of assimilation." - Alison Holland, Australian Journal of Politics and History: Vol. 62, Number 3, 2016