“This country is rotten”: Australian Nurses in India during the First World War and Their Encounters with Race and Nationhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines the writings of the nurses of the Australian Army Nursing Services, who served in hospitals in India between 1916 and 1919. Their writings show that they practised differences along three lines: colour, culture, and space. The article reveals the plurality of female engagements with empire, highlighting the inherent irony in the imperialist machinations of white women from the dominion nation of Australia. It also demonstrates how these nurses make a “grave” and basic mistake — as expounded by Ernest Renan in his 1882 Sorbonne lecture — by confusing race with nation. It ultimately argues that the Australian nurses in India during the First World War had been set as pawns by their own government in the greater game of colonial power, by analysing one instance of sexual control, a “scandal” which was censored by the Australian government, but which demonstrated how the latter used gender inequalities as an essential instrument for the perpetration of colonial racism and imperial authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-65
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Volume65
Issue number1
Early online date27 Feb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

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