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Distant SistersAustralasian Women and the International Struggle for the Vote, 1880-1914$
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James Keating

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526140951

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526140968

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Suffragists on tour: Exporting and narrating the female franchise

Suffragists on tour: Exporting and narrating the female franchise

(p.170) 5 Suffragists on tour: Exporting and narrating the female franchise
Distant Sisters

James Keating

Manchester University Press

This chapter considers the role of mobile activists in making, sustaining, and severing intercolonial and international ties between women’s suffrage activists. It focuses on three emblematic journeys: the Adelaide journalist Catherine Helen Spence’s 1893–94 lecture tour of Britain and North America, the New Zealand suffrage leader Kate Sheppard’s ‘triumphant’ return to the United Kingdom in 1894–95, and the Australasian Women’s Christian Union president Elizabeth Webb Nicholls’ protracted mission to stitch together a Commonwealth for white women as well as white men during Australia’s federal decade. In addition to illuminating their adventures, the chapter elaborates on the material practices that underpinned suffragists’ journeys, interrogates the centrality of travel writing to their respective political projects, and unveils the silences in these public and private accounts of transnational activism. In doing so, it unsettles heroic narratives about the antipodean women who travelled to teach their metropolitan sisters and complicates typologies of political tourism that normalise the experiences of hyper-mobile elites.

Keywords:   Catherine Helen Spence, Elizabeth Webb Nicholls, Kate Sheppard, political tourism, travel writing, women’s suffrage, women’s travel

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