'Whatever her race, a woman is not a chattel': Mary Montgomery Bennett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In the Australian context, Mary Bennett argued that demands for the abolition of polygamy were antithetical to the administration’s aims in Western Australia. She believed that the mission’s insistence on monogamy protected Aboriginal women caught in the vulnerable state of culture contact; hence, it preserved Aboriginal society from what amounted to state-sanctioned extermination. This chapter will look at this intriguing and culturally specific dimension of Bennett’s campaign to explore how one white woman conceived of Aboriginal women’s rights in inter-war Australia against a backdrop of a consolidating empire and increased interest in Indigenous races both nationally and internationally. But before exploring the particularity of Bennett’s agenda in Australia, we need to have the important background context within which to understand it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUncommon ground
Subtitle of host publicationwhite women in Aboriginal history
EditorsAnna Cole, Victoria Haskins, Fiona Paisley
Place of PublicationCanberra, Australia
PublisherAboriginal Studies Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)0855754850
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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