The premise of this topic is that criminal deviance and bodies have intertwined histories. Their meanings are constituted by habits of interpretation formed in political, cultural and legal contexts. These habits, informed by and buttressing regulation, often serve to shore up the ideals of the body politic.
This topic begins by examining first encounters between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians: how did European interpretations of Indigenous bodies shape broader assumptions about cultural difference and establish foundations for the various regimes that have regulated Indigenous bodies? We then look at the ways in which male and female convicts' bodies were marked and read as deviant and the gendered nature of their policing and punishing. We examine women’s attempts to manage their reproductive bodies alongside anxieties about race and population expressed through state attempts to control reproductive choices, including how Aboriginal, immigrant and refugee bodies have been interpreted through the lens of these anxieties. Medical and social understandings of physical and mental fragilities will be studied in relation to war, linking masculinity, injury and domestic violence. Finally, the history of the criminalisation of non-heteronormative bodies and the extent of transformation wrought by sexual revolutions and legal change will be used to illustrate the complex and contradictory nature of regulatory processes. We will work with these examples in order to understand constructions of the ‘deviant’ body in Australian history and the visions they sought to serve.
This topic aims to:
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