What is a Feminist Object? Feminist Material Culture and the Making of the Activist Object

Alison Bartlett, M. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Investigating the idea of feminist material culture, this paper proposes ways of considering, classifying, and making meaning of feminist objects. Material things are an important constituent of second-wave feminism that have yet to attract much attention, possibly because of the difficulties of deciding what might constitute a feminist object. We therefore draw some more specific observations from two recent projects: a collection of objects on feminist activism for a national museum, and a collection of essays focused on feminist objects. Both projects are related to Australian feminist activism from the 1970s onward and are used to identify a system of feminist objects and the nature of the feminist object as an activist object. After outlining a possible classification system, we offer another form of object analysis by adapting the idea of object biography to sketch a collective biography of feminist objects. The conclusions we draw around the nature of feminist things suggest this is a rich source of physical evidence of socially transformative ideas that offer innovative ways of attending to feminist times and social movement histories. © 2016 International Australian Studies Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-171
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016


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