Feminism, mateship and brotherhood in 1890s Adelaide

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Who does not think of masculinity and the Australian national character when they hear the word ‘mateship’? There are plenty of reasons for this, not least the efforts of labour leaders and blokish nationalists at the turn of the twentieth century. In this paper, however, I show that radicals in early 1890s Adelaide tried to give ‘mateship’ and the ‘brotherhood of man’ a feminist twist. This was especially the case among the men and women who took part in the Murtho experiment, a short-lived village settlement set up on ethical socialist principles in 1894. Their endeavours highlight the fact that notions of mateship, brotherhood and fraternity developed throughout Anglo culture in this period, not just in Australia. They also highlight the importance of ethical socialism to many of South Australia’s first-wave feminists, leading them to feel a sense of mutuality with labour and radical causes.

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Journal Article

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