Introduction: Gender and Violence in Cultural Texts of the Global South

By Anne Brewster, Anna MacDonald and Sue Kossew

© all rights reserved. Printer friendly PDF version.


The term ‘Global South’ is used variously by politicians, development organisations, arts practitioners and scholars working in a range of disciplines to denote a conceptual framework, a geopolitical category, a condition of existence, a research methodology and a metaphor. Given the variety of uses to which the term is applied, it is unsurprising that the ‘Global South’ is highly contested both as to its meaning and as to its value as a geopolitical or other analytical tool.

For many, the term is inherently ambiguous. Leigh Anne Duck is attracted to the ‘overt geographic imprecision’ of the Global South and ‘the potential flexibility of this [analytical] framework’ (n.p.). For Matthew Sparke, however, the Global South is ‘always somewhere, … located at the intersection of entangled political geographies of dispossession and repossession, [and] has to be mapped with persistent geographical responsibility’ (117). By contrast, according to Alfred J. López ‘the South as a synonym for subalterity’ is powerful for its ability to ‘transcend geographical and ideological frontiers’ (‘Introduction’ 8). For Boaventura de Sousa Santos, the South is ‘a founding metaphor of emergent subjectivity … expressing all forms of subordination brought about by the capitalist world system’. Not a site, as such, the South, for Santos, rather ‘signifies … human suffering caused by capitalist modernity’ (579).

But for others the Global South is highly problematic. Rodolgo Magallanes considers the concept to be ‘ahistoric and decontextualized’, a falsely homogenizing framework for a heterogeneous amalgam of countries with complex histories of colonialism and neo-colonialism (n.p.). And for Dorothy Figueira, the Global South is just ‘the latest articulation of alterity … [according to which the] other remains an externally imposed exotic caricature transformed into a cultural text’ (144, 145).

This kind of critique of Global South studies is especially evident in the work of scholars writing out of the South, scholarship that often intersects with existing frustrations about Western (or Northern) feminism and responses to instances of gender-based violence. In an article concerned with Western feminist responses to the 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi, Elora Halim Chowdhury criticises analyses that fail to illuminate ‘globalization and the structural inequalities that play a role in producing both victims and perpetrators of violence’ (10). Chowdhury’s criticism is directed most clearly at Western feminists who fail to account for this historical and geopolitical context of the Global South and the ways in which this context impacts on acts of gender-based violence. Chowdhury is angered both by a failure to respond by feminists in the Global North who are ‘fearful that their attempts to speak out about gender violence in South Asia, Africa, Latin America or formerly colonised regions will reproduce colonial dynamics’ and by a response from the Global North that purports to ‘“rescue” downtrodden women from “backward” cultural traditions’ (10). She argues, instead, for ‘a transnational analytic of care: one that is not defensive, reactionary, or silencing … that is cognizant of the local and global processes that create conditions of vulnerability for women and form the asymmetrical planes in which cross-cultural alliances and solidarity practices must happen’ (9).

In light of this, and in spite of Rodolgo Magallanes’s criticism that the Global South is ‘ahistorical and decontextualized’, as a framework, geopolitical category, lived condition and metaphor, the Global South is perhaps most useful for the larger context it gives to questions of gender, labour, poverty, urbanisation and migration. In their introduction to Concepts of the Global South, Andrea Wolvers, Oliver Tappe, Tijo Salverda and Tobias Schwarz emphasise the extent to which ‘the Global South is contextual’, which lends the term its flexibility, but also its inherent ambiguity. As they indicate, this ‘is not a static concept. With geopolitical shifts, the definition of the Global South may also change; not only with regard to the meaning of the term, but also … with regard to which countries are considered to be part of the Global South and which are not’ (n.p.).

Adopting the Global South as framework for analyses of instances and experiences of gender-based violence requires a number of important shifts in Northern gender studies. As Raewyn Connell has indicated, ‘[w]e need to conceive gender theory itself in new and globally inclusive ways’ (53). Part of this re-conception of gender theory requires that Western feminists from the Global North acknowledge that the concerns of Southern feminists may not fit neatly within existing frameworks of gender equality: ‘There are critics in the South who argue that identity questions matter little compared with poverty, power and violence’ (Connell 57). Vijay Prashad, citing Marie-Angelique Savane, has also indicated this important difference:

In the Third World, women’s demands have been more explicitly political, with work, education and health as major issues per se, and not necessarily linked to their specific impact on women. In addition, women of the Third World perceive imperialism as the main enemy of their continents and especially women—something which is rarely fully understood in the North. (121)

In terms of gender-based research into the Global South, this can be seen in analyses of the feminisation of labour and poverty, including the increased vulnerability to violence of women who live in slums with restricted access to water and sanitation and who are required to travel long distances to workplaces (often operated by multi-national companies). For other critics in the South, Connell states, ‘identity does matter, but in a different way [to the Global North]’, the emphasis in Chile and Brazil, for instance, often being placed on collective rather than individual gender identities (57). This has real implications for analyses of gender-based violence, in particular any analysis that focuses on intimate partner violence.

As indicated by Chowdhury and Connell, gender-based research about the Global South must take account of globalisation and its associated ‘structural inequalities’. Annette Trefzer, Jeffrey T. Jackson, Kathryn McKee and Kirsten Dellinger also emphasise the need to interrogate the Global North alongside the Global South. They seek to challenge a nation-based conceptualisation of both the South and the North and look instead for the ‘granular way’ in which one exists within the other (3-4).


The Global South’s Spatio-temporality

The Global South has its own distinctive spatio-temporality (West-Pavlov, ‘Toward’ 14). It announces overtly its spatial genealogy—‘east’ and ‘west’ being concepts that come from the Renaissance, and ‘north’ and ‘south’ from the Enlightenment (Levander and Mignolo 9). By bringing the south into focus, the concept of the Global South reverses the pejorative value structurally inherent in this, the lesser of the two terms of the Enlightenment binary, to promote a resignifying of the term ‘South’ as a constituency that is no longer dependent upon defining itself in relation to the more economically dominant constituency, the Global North. In the process the term is unmoored from its strictly geo-political reference. Russell West-Pavlov describes it as a ‘supraregionalist’ notion (‘Toward’ 11). As Wolvers, Tappe, Salverda and Schwartz note, ‘most people living in the so-called Global South [are] actually living in the northern hemisphere’ (1-2). The geographical slippage in the term ‘Global South’ is already evident in earlier terms such as ‘the west’, as Menon (quoting Glissant) suggests: ‘the West is not in the West: it is a project not a place’ (cited in Menon 38).

While the Global South is commonly figured as incorporating Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, numerous commentators have similarly argued that it is not a purely geopolitical category. López suggests that the category designates a condition or orientation rather than a place (‘Preface’ 1). If the strict geographical definition of the term is to be broadened, then what does the Global South mean? In much of the literature, the term has come principally to point to the ‘economic division between rich(er) and poor(er) countries’ (Wolvers et al. 1). Where the word ‘global’ in the term ‘Global South’ refers to the globalised neoliberal capitalist economy, the terms ‘south’ and ‘north’ refer respectively to the ‘victims and the benefactors of global capitalism’ (Eriksen 4).

One consequence of the unhitching of the concept of the Global South from its geographical moorings is that the term can refer to individuals and communities of subordinate and oppressed peoples within Global North countries. As Trefzer, Jackson, McKee and Dellinger argue:

If ‘South’, unmoored from strict geographic associations, becomes a marker for power comprised by political and economic disenfranchisement and distributed unequally via the conventional hierarchies of gender, race, and class, we can find ‘South’ in many places: north, east, west, and south. (2)

Australia and New Zealand function as markers which unsettle the North-South binary, particularly regarding Indigenous constituencies. If we consider the mainstream cultures of Australia and New Zealand—although located in the southern hemisphere—as sharing the economic status of the Global North (or, as Magallanes suggests, in a slightly different formulation, as ‘southern outliers of the North’ (9) then we can refer to Indigenous people in Australia and New Zealand as members of a Global South enclave. This may, in fact, be an effective way of foregrounding transnational affiliations and solidarities. Menon, for example, insists that the spatial categories (East, West, North and South) belie the fact that these locations have ‘always already [been] miscegenated spaces of movement and thought’ (40) characterised by cultural hybridity and inflected with both local and global practices, and inhabited by ‘conjunctural’ identities (40).

Indigenous people in Australia—described by writer Alexis Wright as ‘the country’s poorest and historically most mistreated population’ (64)—can be seen, on account of this subalternity, as a pocket of the Global South within a first-world country. Although the Global South designates subalternity, it is also used to foreground the various agencies that subaltern groups draw upon. López argues that the term Global South serves ‘as a signifier of oppositional subaltern cultures’ (‘Preface’ v).[1] If the Global South is a designation for those people and communities impacted negatively by globalisation, it also signifies a repository of survival, hope and courage. Pramod K. Nayar describes the new public modernities which emerge from the Global South as characterised by the themes of ‘inequality [and] discrimination’ but also of ‘fundamental freedom, resistance and protests’ and, we would add, creativity (242). The subjects in southern spaces that are analysed in this special section of AHR are figures not just of suffering and struggle but also of strength, resourcefulness and agency.

Wright, quoted above, stresses the power of Aboriginal story-making and storytelling to intervene in and interrupt the stories by non-Indigenous people which dominate the media (68). We can see the importance of Indigenous literature as an instance of Indigenous story-making and storytelling in essays by Chris Prentice and Sue Kossew in this special section of AHR. The Māori and Aboriginal writers referred to in these two essays describe the many agencies of First Nations people and their resilience and survival. In positioning Indigenous literatures in Australia and New Zealand as part of the Global South we foreground their globalised consciousness and connectivity. Tara June Winch, an Australian writer of Wiradjuri, Afghan, and English heritage, whose collection of stories After the Carnage is the subject of Sue Kossew’s essay, has set her stories in a wide range of locations across the globe and engages in an exploration of the role of global organisation such as the UN and its failure to support and enable the mobility of people from the Global South. She, in effect, aligns Aboriginal issues with those facing people from the Global South—such as entrenched poverty and other forms of disadvantage.

She is not the first Aboriginal writer to evince a strong transnational imaginary. As early as 1989 the great writer and activist Oodgeroo wrote about the common decolonising aim of many constituencies in what has been identified as the Global South.  In a speech to mark the occasion of her being awarded an honorary doctorate by Griffith University, she said that ‘there can be no doubt that the grassroot peoples of the Southern Hemisphere are embarking on a natural course of balance’ (Oodgeroo 106). Referring to the (then imminent) overthrow of the apartheid regime in South Africa, she described similar decolonising impulses in the Pacific and South America, where people longed to be free of the ‘evil and ugly colonial yoke’ (106). She suggested that these impulses heralded the ‘very real beginning of the Southern Hemisphere of the future, if indeed there is to be a future for humankind under the umbrellas of nations who have at their heads fascist, nationalist boys who long to play with atomic toys’ (106). Oodgeroo’s formulation, ‘the Southern Hemisphere of the future’, appears to correspond to the category of the Global South (which arose around the time of Oodgeroo’s statement in the early 1990s) and its passionate aspirations for what Levander and Mignolo call ‘decolonial emancipations’ and ‘new horizons of life’ (5). Oodgeroo articulates what scholars have defined as the temporality of the Global South: namely, its trenchant and urgent investments in alternative futurities (West-Pavlov, ‘Toward’ 12). In an age when many Aboriginal people are concerned about the silencing of Aboriginal people in the political mainstream, about the lack of Aboriginal viewpoints in many public spheres (Wright) and the dominance of sensationalised, negative stories about Indigenous people in the media, it is important that the work of literary writers, such as those discussed by Prentice and Kossew, circulate broadly to as wide an audience as possible.

If Australian Indigenous literature foregrounds transnational linkages with other constituencies of the Global South, the same can be said of Māori and Pacific Island poets and fiction writers whose rhetoric of decolonisation strongly suggests an awareness of and connection with other colonised Indigenous peoples. The poem by Kathy Jetnil Kijiner that Chris Prentice cites in her essay in this issue clearly articulates a global consciousness in the ways it looks to make connections with other regions of the Global South which are imperilled or displaced by rising sea levels and climate change. Her poem identifies the common threat to these countries of the global political and business interests which compound and ignore their plight. Like Australian Indigenous texts, those analysed by Prentice indicate that Māori and Pacific Island writers are also centrally concerned with alternative futures.

If Indigenous and Pacific Island literatures evince a transnational imaginary and common investments in the urgency of alternative futures, the same can be said of the literature from other minority constituencies in Australia. In her essay, Anne Brewster discusses an Indian-Australian writer Roanna Gonsalves, identifying the ways in which her stories map diasporic moments of renewal in everyday lives. Gonsalves depicts the ‘aspirational temporality’ (Elze 224) of Indian migrants in Australia who have a dual orientation to their homelands of origin and the new country in which they have arrived. The stories bear witness to the underside of globalisation, to the poverty and disenfranchisement of minoritised people and the gendering of violence. They explore both the trans and intra-national experience of political and economic disenfranchisment. In critiquing the racialised governance of minoritised people and the reproduction of whiteness they transnationalise the Australian literary canon.

The transnational imaginaries and connectivities, typical of the Global South, which we have identified in the literary texts from Indigenous, Pacific Island, and racialised diasporic writers, are evident in the other essays in this collection as is the theme of alternative and emergent futures. Global connectivities are evident in Sascha Morrell’s piece which analyses the South-South relationships of two African American women anthropologists—in the 1930s doing field work in Jamaica and Haiti—with the Jamaican and Haitian women with whom they came into contact. Morrell scrupulously examines the differences as well as the unexpected continuities between the African-American women and the women whom they were researching. Embodying subtle modes of resistance to colonial and white supremacist domination and the violence implicit in these gendering regimes, both the African American and the Haitian women in Morrell’s study are strongly oriented towards alternative and emergent futures. In her essay on women’s violence in Australian cinema, Janice Loreck argues that gender violence in Australian film is shaped by the industrial relationships between the Global North and South, particularly the northern cinema industry in Western Europe and North America. She quotes Mattias Frey, arguing that small national cinema industries such as Australia’s focus on violent content in order to comply with northern taste-makers and to ‘gain attention and a foothold in a competitive, globalized marketplace’ (Frey 122). She identifies violence within the films she discusses as locally situated in that it enacts ‘a traumatic repetition of a foundational colonial aggression’ (Loreck in this issue). The films under discussion reference a colonising culture in their portrayal of Australia as empty, void, forsaken and without history. The violence the women commit is, in many ways, complicit with this culture; the women do not radically transcend or change their circumstance, in spite of their actions.



The cultural representations of women in these five essays address the ubiquitous presence of violence in women’s lives and the ways in which gendered violence is variously shaped for example by class, religion, sexuality, nationality, citizenship status, regional isolation, and by discourses of ethnicity, race and whiteness. We draw on a broad definition of violence against women as that which encompasses ‘any physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial or social harm caused to a woman by individuals (known or unknown to the woman), groups, institutions or states, based primarily or in part on the fact that she is a woman’ (Gill, Heathcote and Williamson 1). Globally and in Australia, statistics indicate that the overwhelming number of victims of violence are women, and the perpetrators of this violence remain largely men (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report 1). Nevertheless, women have multiple and sometimes contradictory or ambiguous relations to violence: as witnesses, accomplices, advocates, perpetrators and survivors, and these essays reflect this multiplicity. Janice Loreck explores the sense of psychic and geographical isolation portrayed in three Australian films which depict women committing or ordering acts of homicide. Loreck examines the ways in which suburbs are depicted in Australian films as places of death and survival for the women inhabiting them who are simultaneously the victims and perpetrators of violence. Similarly, the African American women anthropologists of the 1930s that Sascha Morrell examines are seen as both privileged (complicit in the US imperialism in which they are embedded) and vulnerable (as raced and gendered subjects). They are shown to be ambiguously positioned (on account of their gender, class and race) both in relation to the professional culture of which they are a part and to the Haitian women who are the objects of their fieldwork.

Women’s ambiguous relationship to violence has long been the subject of women’s literary texts. The aspiring middle-class diasporic Goan women in Roanna Gonsalves’ story, ‘Full Face’, who are the subject of Anne Brewster’s essay, are complicit in the exploitation of another Indian diasporic woman located in the precariat. At the same time, one of these middle-class women is herself vulnerable to domestic violence which is shown in this story to be normalised and rendered invisible (by middle-class women themselves). Chris Prentice’s essay explores the literary representation of violence in Pacific Island and Māori women’s lives indicating how they have borne the brunt of colonisation and the continuing impact of globalisation and its planetary effects. She argues that the gendering and regendering of Indigenous worlds are inseparable from colonial transactions. Sue Kossew’s analysis of Indigenous writer Tara June Winch’s stories in her collection After the Carnage explores Winch’s representation of precaritised people, whose lives are marked by poverty and marginalisation, in Europe, America and Australia. The ‘carnage’ referred to in the collection’s title ranges from ‘everyday’ acts of violence, such as those within families and interpersonal relationships, to global and colonial violence that results in refugees seeking asylum and in the problem of world hunger. In all of these essays, we see that gendering can be a form of violence and that violence is constitutive of gender.


Summaries of Essays

In ‘“Who Speaks for Culture?” Challenging Gender and Sexual Violence in Māori and Pacific Island Literature in English’, Chris Prentice analyses the intersecting pressures of colonisation, diaspora and globalisation to observe that Māori and Pacific Island territories, communities and cultures bear the social, economic, and environmental brunt of global capitalism whose so-called benefits are weighted strongly towards the North. She suggests that while New Zealand is generally considered an outpost of the Global North in the hemispheric South (Magallanes), and if the South is ‘a synonym for subalterity’ (López, ‘Introduction’ 8), then Māori and New Zealand resident Pacific Island peoples constitute a ‘Southern’ enclave in that first-world country. The Pacific Islands can also be considered part of the Global South. Pacific nations face increasing dependence on international aid, multinational corporations, governments of former colonial powers, and remittances from family members overseas. Tourism threatens and displaces livelihoods and the cultures that sustain them, while translating those cultures (and their subjects) into consumer products, performances and services for others. Like the Māori, Pacific Island peoples are overrepresented among those suffering economic poverty, poor health, poor housing, poor educational attainment, and other measures of disadvantage.

In her analysis of representations of gender and sexual violence in poetry by Selina Tusitala Marsh, Jully Sipolo, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Grace Mera Molisa, Konai Helu Thaman and Tusiata Avia, and in fiction by Patricia Grace, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and Sia Figiel, Prentice argues that Māori and Pacific Island women writers foreground girls’ and women’s survival, and their gendered and cultural agency. She suggests that gendered violence can be traced back to the impacts of systemic factors, as well as to intersecting ‘traditional’ and colonial patriarchy, and Christianity. She analyses the risks that literature representing violence runs in contributing to stereotypes and to a pornography of violence, which reduces women to further victimisation. In detailing the ways in which literature counteracts these deleterious effects—and the popular mediation of gender and sexual violence—through ‘imaginative translation and transformation’, she argues that Māori and Pacific women writers adumbrate a more enabling conception of culture that both critiques postcolonial globalisation and its planetary impacts, and affirms women’s agency.

In her essay ‘“There is No Female Word for Busha [boss] in These Parts”: Zora Neale Hurston, Katherine Dunham and Women’s Experience in 1930s Haiti and Jamaica’, Sascha Morrell analyses the condition of women in the United States and Haiti. She starts with a discussion of the work of the two African-American anthropologists working in the Caribbean, Hurston and Dunham, and the professional relationship between them. She notes the lack of co-operation between the two and argues that their reliance on white male mentors made their professional relationship a competitive one. She also notes that Hurston and Dunham’s male colleagues made them racialised objects of study, demonstrating the vulnerability of these two professional women to primitivist stereotyping. In these instances, Morrell traces evidence of continuity between the experience of women in the US South and women in the Caribbean Global South, although she notes the asymmetries of women’s positions in the two very different locations. The Caribbean, she argues, produces an ironic mirror for the operations of patriarchy in America.

Both women evinced ambivalence towards the imperialist discourse of white US authority and superiority in relation to the Caribbean. Morrell argues that, despite instances in their work where Hurston and Dunham appeared to collude with first-world privilege and to be complicit in reproducing imperial relations with the Global South and epistemological violence against the women of the Global South, there were also instances in which they were aware of the imperial and gendered dimensions of their projects. In their work, they challenged the conventions of anthropological writing and demonstrated an awareness of the limits of their own ability to know authoritatively. In critiquing stereotypes and analysing Haitian women’s central contribution to everyday life and to practices such as ‘voodoo’, Dunham and Hurston traced Haitian women’s exclusion from social and political power.

Janice Loreck’s essay ‘Stranded in Suburbia: Women’s Violence in Australian Cinema’ considers representations of women’s violence in Australian film, a national cinema known for its interest in aggressive masculinity and interpersonal violence. The essay engages with ‘the South’ in two ways: as an industrial condition that affects filmmakers’ creative choices, and as a narrative trope—a sense of psychic and geographical isolation—that infiltrates Australian storytelling. The paper’s first section considers how the contemporary film industry incentivises Australian filmmakers to produce dark, challenging films as a way of getting noticed on the Northern festival circuit that offers an entry point to the powerful global film industry.

The article’s second section examines how the South operates symbolically in Australian films. Loreck argues that Australian suburbs constitute a remote, antipodean South, characterised in Australian films as isolated places of death and survival. This section considers how texts such as Suburban Mayhem (Paul Goldman 2006), Animal Kingdom (David Michôd 2011) and Hounds of Love (Ben Young 2016) attribute women’s violence to a psychic state of isolation and loneliness, which is in turn connected to a long history of conceptualising the nation as physically removed, its (non-Indigenous) inhabitants trapped and stranded. Violent masculinity, also linked to foundational colonial aggression, is portrayed in these films as emerging from the conditions of suburbia which become symbolic of the violent protagonists’ immobility, entrapment and isolation. While Loreck notes that western cultural narratives conventionally frame women’s violence as exceptional, in these three films women commit or arrange acts of homicide. Women, like men, are represented as trapped in suburbia and positioned ambiguously in relation to violence, as both victims and as perpetrators.

Two of the essays discuss Australian short story collections published in 2016. Sue Kossew’s essay, ‘Precarity and Survival in Tara June Winch’s After the Carnage’, examines five selected short stories from Winch’s collection within a framework of contemporary global identities. Kossew points out the diverse range of Winch’s thirteen stories in the collection that spans geographical settings including Australia, the United States, France, Turkey, Pakistan and China (among others) and includes characters from equally diverse nationalities, ethnicities and class backgrounds as well as gendered identities. She suggests that a common thread in the collection is Winch’s thematic focus on the precarious lives, disadvantage and marginalisation of a number of the characters or the encounter with such disadvantage by those who are more privileged. In a number of stories, Winch illustrates how alliances may be formed among characters from very different backgrounds and nationalities in the kind of ‘maps of affinities’ that Menon suggests are generative of Global South ‘archipelagic thinking’ (40). A strong theme that emerges from the collection is the resilience and survival of the characters despite the precarity of their lives.

Anne Brewster’s essay, ‘Violence, Precarity and the Intersection of Race, Class and Gender in Roanna Gonsalves’ The Permanent Resident’, analyses, in Gonsalves’ short story collection, the class, ethnic and religious specificities of the diasporic Goan Catholic community in Sydney and the power hierarchies and complicities within that community. Brewster focuses on how various immigrant characters in the stories are precaritised on account of their race, gender and class and how they negotiate the violence to which they are subjected as racialised ‘others’ in the white nation. She examines how literature by minoritised authors such as Gonsalves can be seen as transnationalising the Australian imaginary in general and Australian literature in particular by addressing how race and whiteness are reproduced and circulated. She analyses the racialisation of diasporic subjectivities and the maintenance of hegemonic whiteness by charting the ways in which the characters embody multidirectional forms of belonging outside the racialised narratives of the white nation’s ‘others’.

The stories from the collection that she analyses depict physical and emotional violence against minoritised women and the violence of racialised pressure to assimilate. In the story, ‘Full Face’, for example, the minor character, Sheetal, whose class and ethnicity make her a member of the Global South, epitomises the normalizing of violence against women (and feminicide) in the precariat just as the narrrator’s husband’s emotional bullying is normalised in middle-class marriage. Other stories deal with hypocrisy and violence in the Church, racist aggression and the instability of the cultural capital of exotic ‘otherness’ as well as the conjunction of race, subordinate masculinity and violence.


This special section on ‘Gender and Violence in cultural texts of the Global South’ draws on the Global South as an ‘open-ended and inclusive category’ (Sparke 123). Olaf Kaltmeier suggest that, if nothing else, the term the ‘Global South’, in spite of its ambiguities and fuzziness, has ‘been of great benefit in re-introducing studies on Africa, Asian and Latin America’—and, we might add, other marginalised literatures and peoples—into the academic field and placing topics that were once peripheral at the centre of that field (10). The essays in this collection focus on just such literatures and cultures, bringing texts from and research on Indigenous and minoritised women and histories together under the banner of the Global South. It explores women located in southern spaces and their ambiguous and ambivalent relationships with violence. Drilling down into their subject matter, each of the authors in this collection points to the fact that gendered violence (and the various forms of violence perpetrated by women) emerge from structural relations with wider forces (markets, corporations and global processes) which disadvantage women, especially poor and isolated women (Menjívar and Walsh 5). This structural violence indexes the internationalisation of inequalities and hierarchies (Menjívar and Walsh 6). The multiple forms and connections of this violence, women’s agencies in resistance and self-empowerment, and their vision of alternative futurities, are the subject of these essays’ enquiry. It is to be hoped that analyses of the ‘shared condition at the margins’, which López suggests is definitive of constituencies located under the banner of the Global South (‘Introduction’ 1), will open up further South-South dialogues.


Anne Brewster is based at the University of New South Wales. Her research interests include Australian Indigenous literatures, Women’s literatures, minoritised women’s literatures, critical race and whiteness studies, violence studies, cross-racial research methodologies and explorative critical writing methodologies. Her books include Giving This Country a Memory:Contemporary Aboriginal Voices of Australia (2015), Literary Formations: Postcoloniality, Nationalism, Globalism (1996), Reading Aboriginal Women’s Autobiography (1995, 2015), Towards a Semiotic of Post-colonial Discourse: University Writing in Singapore and Malaysia 1949-1964 (1988) and Notes on Catherine Lim’s Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore, with Kirpal Singh (1987). She co-edited, with Angeline O’Neill and Rosemary van den Berg, an anthology of Australian Indigenous Writing, Those Who Remain Will Always Remember (2000). Anne Brewster is the series editor for Australian Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Peter Lang).


Anna MacDonald is a writer who has worked as a Research Associate at Monash University where she was awarded her PhD. She publishes regularly with 3AM: Magazine and The Australian Book Review and her short stories have appeared in international anthologies. Anna’s research focuses on spatial poetics and the topographical imagination. She has written numerous essays on W. G. Sebald, Gaston Bachelard, and contemporary artists including Susan Norrie, Cindy Sherman, and Jenny Holzer. Anna also convenes the Salon Series of readings and conversations at Melbourne’s Paperback Bookshop.


Sue Kossew is Chair of English and Literary Studies at Monash University. Her research is in contemporary postcolonial literatures, particularly J. M. Coetzee and contemporary Australian and South African women writers. Her monographs include Pen and Power: A Post-Colonial Reading of J. M. Coetzee and André Brink (Rodopi, 1996), Writing Woman, Writing Place: Australian and South African Fiction (Routledge, 2004) and, with Anne Brewster, Rethinking the Victim: Gender, Violence and Contemporary Australian Women’s Writing (Routledge, 2019). She has edited a number of volumes on Coetzee as well as Lighting Dark Places: Essays on Kate Grenville (Rodopi, 2010). She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.



[1] He stipulates that these ‘oppositional cultures’ are located in ‘Africa, Central and Latin America, much of Asia, and even those ‘Souths’ within the larger perceived North, such as the US South, the Caribbean and Mediterranean Europe’ (López, ‘Preface’ v).


Works Cited

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence in Australia 2018. Cat. no. FDV 2. Canberra: AIHW, 2018.

Chowdhury, Elora Halim. ‘Violence Against Women: We Need a Transnational Analytic of Care.’ Tikkun Magazine 29.1 (2014): 9-10, 55-6.

Connell, Raewyn. ‘Meeting at the Edge of Fear: Theory on a World Scale.’ Feminist Theory 16.1 (2015): 49-66.

Duck, Leigh Anne. ‘The Global South via the US South.’ Concepts of the Global South: Voices from Around the World. Ed. Andrea Wolvers, Oliver Tappe, Tijo Salverda and Tobias Schwarz. Global South Studies Centre, University of Cologne, Germany, n.d. <>. Link no longer active.

Elze, Jens. ‘Genres of the Global South: The Picaresque.’ The Global South and Literature. Ed. Russell West-Pavlov. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2018. 223-34.

Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. ‘What’s Wrong with the Global North and the Global South.’ Concepts of the Global South: Voices from Around the World. Ed. Andrea Wolvers, Oliver Tappe, Tijo Salverda and Tobias Schwarz. Global South Studies Centre, University of Cologne, Germany, n.d. <>. Link no longer active.

Figueira, Dorothy. ‘“The Global South”: Yet Another Attempt to Engage the Other.’ The Global South 1.1 (2007): 144-52.

Frey, Mattias. Extreme Cinema: The Transgressive Rhetoric of Today’s Art Film Culture. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2016.

Gill, Aisha K., Gina Heathcote and Emma Williamson. ‘Violence.’ Feminist Review 112.1 (2016): 1.

Gonsalves, Roanna. The Permanent Resident. Crawley, WA: UWAP, 2016.

Kaltmeier, Olaf. ‘Global South.’ Concepts of the Global South: Voices from Around the World. Ed. Andrea Wolvers, Oliver Tappe, Tijo Salverda and Tobias Schwarz. Global South Studies Centre, University of Cologne, Germany, n.d. <>. Link no longer active.

Levander, Caroline and Walter Mignolo. ‘The Global South and World Dis/Order.’ The Global South 5.1 (2011): 1-11.

López, Alfred J. ‘Introduction.’ The Global South 1.1 (2007): 1-11.

—. ‘Preface and Acknowledgments.’ The Global South 1.1 (2007): v-vi.

Magallanes, Rodolfo. ‘On the Global South.’ Concepts of the Global South: Voices from Around the World. Ed. Andrea Wolvers, Oliver Tappe, Tijo Salverda and Tobias Schwarz. Global South Studies Center, University of Cologne, Germany. n.d. Link no longer active.

Menjívar, Cecilia, and Shannon Drysdale Walsh. ‘The Architecture of Feminicide: The State, Inequalities, and Everyday Gender Violence in Honduras.’ Latin American Research Review. 52.2 (2017): 221-40.

Menon, Dilip M. ‘Thinking About the Global South: Affinity and Knowledge.’ The Global South and Literature. Ed Russell West-Pavlov. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2018. 34-44.

Nayar, Pramod K. ‘South of the Graphics.’ The Global South and Literature. Ed Russell West-Pavlov. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2018. 235-49.

Oodgeroo. ‘Custodians of the Land.’ My People. Milton, Qld: Jacaranda Press, 1970. 103-12.

Prashad, Vijay. The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. London: Verso, 2012.

de Sousa Santos, Boaventura. ‘Three Metaphors for a New Conception of Law: The Frontier, the Baroque, and the South.’ Law and Society Review 29.4 (1995): 569-84.

Sparke, Matthew. ‘Everywhere but Always Somewhere: Critical Geographies of the Global South.’ The Global South 1.1 (2007): 117-26.

Trefzer, Annette, Jeffrey T. Jackson, Kathryn McKee and Kirsten Dellinger. ‘The Global South and/in the Global North: Interdisciplinary Investigations.’ The Global South 8.2 (2014): 1-15.

West-Pavlov, Russell. ‘Toward the Global South.’ The Global South and Literature. Ed. Russell West-Pavlov. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2018. 1-20.

—, ed. The Global South and Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2018.

Winch, Tara June. After the Carnage. St Lucia, Qld: UQP, 2016.

Wolvers, Andrea, Oliver Tappe, Tijo Salverda and Tobias Schwarz. ‘Introduction.’ Concepts of the Global South: Voices from Around the World. Ed. Andrea Wolvers, Oliver Tappe, Tijo Salverda and Tobias Schwarz. Global South Studies Centre, University of Cologne, Germany, n.d. <>. Link no longer active.

Wright, Alexis. ‘What Happens When You Tell Someone Else’s Story?’ Meanjin 75.4 (Summer 2016): 58-76.


If you would like to contribute to this discussion, please email [email protected]