Anzac Day media representations of women in Perth 1960-2012
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Anzac Day relates to the most profound historical and contemporary notions of national identity and to the question of gender in that identity. While women had a prominent public role in the embryonic Anzac Day celebrations, the emergence from the 1920s onwards of the now characteristic structure of the day (dawn service – march – follow-on – afternoon celebrations including eating, drinking and playing of the gambling game two-up, illegal on every other day of the year) has seen an attendant marginalisation of women in the shaping of this national day. To date, there is a rich literature around Anzac Day celebrations focussing on its cultural / folkloric role, the production of (masculinised) national identity, pilgrimage, popular memory/ history, non-combatant wartime roles of women, along with an emerging literature on the contemporary reshaping of the Anzac Myth by and for indigenous participants. There is however a dearth of scholarly work on the involvement of women in Anzac Day commemoration as it has evolved into its current dominant form. This chapter addresses this lack, providing an examination of the role of women in the ongoing creation of Anzac Day practices and meanings and the closely related representation of women’s roles in the media surrounding this yearly event. It does so by drawing on the coverage of Anzac Day in two key Western Australian newspapers from 1960 to the present.
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