Rural Rites: Women's experience of funerals and remembrance on Lower Eyre Peninsula in the post 1960s era

Jennifer Watkins

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    This thesis will examine changing trends in funerals, loss and remembrance from the mid 1960s to 2018, on the Lower Eyre Peninsula region of South Australia. The project begins with a discussion of the scholarship of death, dying and remembrance within a global frame, together with an exploration of interpretations of current themes in this field, within Australia. The geographical area chosen has been selected because it has a rich history of settler communities, as well as being the life-long home of the researcher. Nationally, some historiographical accounts have explored funerals, loss and remembrance. While a few historians have acknowledged the history of cemeteries and funerals in South Australia, such accounts have largely centred on Adelaide and urban areas, and are almost entirely absent in regard to South Australia and Lower Eyre Peninsula. The time-frame for the study was selected because vast changes for women were evidenced in those years, following the second wave of feminism. Although the impact of such changes was slow to infiltrate rural areas, eventually it extended to time-honoured traditions in funerary procedures and rituals. As the region to be studied is a farming area, the masculine nature of the rural industry has meant that any literature extant has largely neglected women’s roles in patriarchal economies. Now, this project aims to redress that imbalance. The thesis critically examines the changes which have ensued, using oral history methodology. Enhancing the study are memories of local women in the region, contributing their views, thoughts and feelings about death, funerals and remembrance in the past. This investigation is a closely-focused study which not only outlines the historical changes in the field of funerals and remembrance, but also explores the impact of secularism; women’s move into the public realm; individualism; and the decline of some traditional aspects of funerals. The thesis argues that women’s roles, particularly in regard to funerals, play an important role in building and strengthening connections in rural communities, whilst acknowledging changing social trends in their local regions.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Van Duinen, Jared, Principal Supervisor
    • Taylor, Therese, Advisor
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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