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Curthoys, A. (2020). Family violence and colonisation. Australian Historical Studies, 51(2), 146-164.
Any comprehensive history of domestic and family violence in Australia must include Aboriginal family violence. This is a sensitive and difficult intellectual task. While there are scarcely any histories of Aboriginal family violence in Australia, there are four decades of public reports and academic and activist publications addressing it in the present, usually offering explanations and recommendations for action. In this article I examine this research and public commentary. I concentrate especially on the competing explanations for the high levels of family violence in Aboriginal communities, one focused on the effects of colonisation and the other on certain Aboriginal cultural continuities. I argue that if we move beyond the opposition between the effects of ‘history’ and ‘culture’ that has tended to structure these debates, we are in a better position to produce meaningful histories of domestic and family violence in Australia that are fully attentive to its variety and complexity.