Australian Historical Studies: Histories of Sexuality, Vol. 36, No. 126
$60 p.a. pb, 222 pp
A thematic offering on sexuality from Australian Historical Studies (AHS) and an assortment of political history from the Australian Journal of Politics & History (AJPH). The first promises a diverse collection of articles that ‘not only speak productively to each other but also provocatively continue the project of putting historically framed sexual questions, and sexually framed historical questions, into scholarly debate’ but actually delivers something more modest. The second lacks this kind of thematic ambition, yet manages to surprise us with the weight of its straightforward historical sensitivity.
At times one cannot help but feel that gender historians live by a desire to remain at the edge of mainstream historical discourse. This special issue from AHS is no different. Each article pushes at boundaries with an unconscious, if not at times perverse, adage that the old edges are no longer edgy enough. Victoria Haskins and John Maynard, in their exploration of the complexities of relationships between Aboriginal men and white women, set these new edges far off in the distance. Unfortunately, we soon realise that they are referring to stereotyped categories and not any identification with an individual’s peculiarity. As a consequence, all we are left with is much interesting detail that is lost to their troubling, if not dangerous, methodological ambition.