Rachel Harris

Rachel Harris

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Humanities

Faculty of Arts


Rachel Harris is a PhD candidate in the Department of History. She completed her Bachelor of Arts (1st class) Honours Degree in History in 2015.

Rachel's doctoral thesis considers the lives of civilian women in South Australia during World War II. It questions how feminine norms were defined and enforced by the press, government, employers and other institutions between 1939–45, and how these shaped women’s responses and experiences of the war. It argues that wartime constructions of womanhood aimed to maintain traditional gender relations, but that sometimes women adapted these gendered expectations to make their own social, economic and personal gains. In doing so, it demonstrates the pervasiveness and power of gendered discourses, which were ubiquitous to all areas of women’s wartime lives, including their employment in civilian industries, involvement in wartime voluntary work, the regulation of their behaviour and sexuality, and in the treatment of those deemed enemy aliens.  An oral history project accompanies this research, and is held by the State Library of South Australia.

Rachel has presented her research at the annual Australian Historical Association Conference, the biennial International Australian Studies Association Conference, Oral History Association Biennial Conference, South Australian State History Conference, and the University of South Australia's 'Narratives of War Symposium'. She has also talked about her project at events held by the Labour History Society of South Australia, History Council of South Australia, Oral History Association SA/NT and the Barr Smith Library.

Rachel has contributed to the South Australian Government's Anzac Centenary 'Think Piece' series and is a book review contributor for the Australian Women's History Network VIDA blog.

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  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2019 Scholarship NZHA Conference 2019 Postgraduate Travel Bursary New Zealand Historical Association New Zealand $200 (NZD)
    2017 Research Award South Australian History Fund History Trust of South Australia Australia $1500
    2017 Research Award Hugh Martin Weir Prize Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide Australia $1000
    2017 Scholarship Labour History Society Tom Sheridan Scholarship Labour History Society (SA Branch) Australia $500
    2017 Achievement Oral History Association SA/NT Conference Bursary Oral History Association SA/NT Australia $370
    2017 Achievement Australian Historical Association/Copyright Agency Bursary Australian Historical Association Australia $1000
    2016 Scholarship Research Training Program (formerly Australian Postgraduate Award) University of Adelaide Australia $27,082 (2018 rate)
    2015 Award Wakefield Companion to South Australian History Essay Prize History Council of South Australia Australia $500
    2014 Award Thomas Morrow Prize University of Queensland Australia $100
    2014 Award Dean's Scholar University of Queensland Australia
    2014 Scholarship Summer Research Program Scholar University of Queensland Australia $3000
    2013 Award 49th Battalion A.I.F Honour Fund Prize University of Queensland Australia
    2013 Achievement Dean's Commendation for Academic Excellence University of Queensland Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2015 - 2015 University of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
    2011 - 2014 University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia Bachelor of Arts
  • Research Interests

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  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2017 - ongoing Member Oral History Association SA/NT Australia
    2017 - ongoing Member Labour History Society (SA Branch) Australia
    2016 - ongoing Member Australian Historical Association Australia
    2016 - ongoing Member Australian Women's History Network Australia
  • Presentation

    Date Topic Presented at Institution Country
    2019 - ongoing Women’s Land Work in World War II: Some Perspectives from Australia and New Zealand New Zealand Historical Association Conference Victoria University Wellington New Zealand
    2019 - ongoing Public Discourse and the Regulation of Femininity in World War II South Australia Australian Historical Association Conference 2019, University of Southern Queensland
    2018 - ongoing ‘Soldier Struck’: Regulation of Female Morality on the South Australian Home Front International Australian Studies Association Conference University of Queensland
    2017 - ongoing Nationality Lost: German and Italian Women in South Australia, 1939-45 Australian Historical Association Conference University of Newcastle
    2017 - ongoing Uncovering Women's Home Front Experiences Oral History Association Australia Biennial Conference Oral History Association
    2017 - ongoing "Minnie Brown Works in Munitions”: Femininity and the South Australian Economy During World War II State History Conference History Trust of South Australia
    2017 - ongoing Conflict on the Home Front – Narratives of Race and Gender in South Australia, 1939-1945 Narratives of War Symposium University of South Australia

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