Introduction: 30@30 Australian Feminist Studies

Australian Feminist Studies

As Australian Feminist Studies concludes its 30th anniversary year we have curated our editors’ selection of thirty outstanding and groundbreaking articles from across the journal’s history to mark this milestone. Read chronologically this selection charts the critical role that Australian feminists and a school of thought we would define as ‘Australian feminist theory’ have played in defining the ground for feminist thought internationally and demonstrates how important this journal has been in the transmission of this new knowledge.

We have asked some of the authors of these articles to provide reflections on their pieces as they now look back on them across the intervening years. A number of these commentaries precisely reference this critical role. Indeed, Rosalyn Diprose in commenting on her article ‘Giving Corporeality Against the Law’ refers to an ‘institution of Australian feminist thinking’, highlighting its importance in the development of alternative models for feminist theorizing on social relations, intercorporeality and ethics. As our selection reveals, this work begins in the 1980s, as evidenced here in the example of Danielle Celemajer’s article which redraws the terms of feminist engagements with the anorexic body, and continues through the 1990s in articles by Diprose and by Vicky Kirby, and onwards to the more recent of work of Dugdale, Keane, Rosengarten, Roberts, Waldby and Cooper. It is hard now to imagine the feminist theoretical field without these provocative interventions. Indeed, these interventions have ultimately redefined the field as we know it.

As Patricia MacCormack affirms, Australian feminist thinkers have played—and continue to play—a pivotal role internationally in shaking up orthodoxies, particularly philosophical ones. Australian Feminist Studies has carried influential contributions to debates concerning temporality, agency, biology and sexual difference, here represented in articles by Donna Haraway, Claire Colebrook, Penelope Deutscher, Ilya Parkins, Paola Marati, Suzanne Fraser and Elizabeth Wilson. Equally significant are the contributions that Australian feminists have made to understandings of citizenship, not least in their critical analyses of the constitution of that very category. Here we have included articles by Marilyn Lake, Gail Reekie and Lesley Johnson, however, that list could easily have expanded to fill a special issue in its own right. Importantly, the journal has also sought to challenge the terms of feminist postcolonial theory, especially on questions of the production and circulation of knowledge. Articles included here by Behrendt, Cheah, Haskins, Huggins and Moreton-Robinson all—in different ways—contribute to the project articulated by Ahmed in her article, ‘Knowing Strangers’ where she calls for ‘a more enabling politics of knowledge […] one that welcomes those voices that refuse to speak “with” the one who knows’ (p. 64).

For us as editors it is astonishing looking back to see the absolutely central role the journal has played in the unfolding of so many debates. It is important too that we recognize here the insightful roles played by the journal’s previous editors—Susan Margarey, Sue Sheridan and Mary Spongberg—in creating and cultivating Australian Feminist Studies as a journal capable of recognising and responding to emergent trajectories in feminist thinking internationally and contributing to its circulation  and consolidation. As the current editors of Australian Feminist Studies we look forward to continuing in this tradition. 

Lisa Adkins and Maryanne Dever
Editors-in-Chief, Australian Feminist Studies