Making place : maps and memories in the creation of the West End of Adelaide Hammond, Lee

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Hammond, Lee
Women - South Australia - Social conditions.; Adelaide Metropolitan Area (S. Aust.); Women
Thesis (PhDSoSc(Communic,InformatStud))--University of South Australia, 2007. Bibliography: leaves 249-269. South Australia was a free colony, planned for years before European settlement in 1836 and considered untainted by the convict stigma. Many of the influential settlers were religious dissenters, determined that the colony would be free, pious and 'respectable'. However, although the churches that appeared on the landscape earned Adelaide the epithet 'city of churches', hotels quickly outnumbered places of worship. The West End of Adelaide, the area first settled, soon became overcrowded, with a reputation for prostitution and other 'vices'. The term 'West End' often took on negative connotations that implied disrepute. Many elements contributed to the socio-spatial constitution of the West End. These included the plan of Adelaide which placed odorous utilities to the west of the city, the nature and time of settlement, the size of the new colony and representations in the popular imagination; of poverty, considered a chosen vice, and of the area itself, which was often seen as a site of immorality and pollution. I have briefly documented elsewhere the way in which middle class reformers targeted the West End around the turn of the twentieth century, but there has been no substantial exploration of this subject. My thesis addresses this oversight. These reformers, while anxious to ameliorate the living conditions of poor families in the West End, to change their domestic habits, create a more docile and obedient population, and 'rescue' the 'fallen', often reinforced negative representations as they sought public support or justified their actions. I examine these elements, drawing on archival research and oral history, and analysing them through a theoretical lens that includes post structural and feminist theory, combined with cultural geography. Maps provide graphic images of the social and cultural conditions under which the place developed and the way in which it became a laboratory for problems found in the wider community. Women's stories help explore the 'sense of place' and the reciprocal relationship between the identities of place and people. They often challenge past representations of the West End and its women. Some of the women were born into large families, others were single mothers, some worked as prostitutes and some were reformers. Threads of several of these women's lives, from oral histories, memory and occasionally their writings, weave through part of my thesis. These women are included in the dialogue and allowed the voice they were denied at the time the story was first written. I reveal the part they played in the making of the place and their place in the past, giving them not only a voice but also a history. These stories offer a valuable opportunity to recognise women's contributions and to give a fairer representation of women in the West End. The history of the West End is a significant part of the history of South Australia that has not, until now, been explored in detail. Consideration of West End history provides an opportunity to pursue an analysis of place and of the channelling and controlling of social constructs and material practices that shape it.
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