The “White middle-class farming woman”: Instagram and settler colonialism in contemporary rural Australia

Journal of Rural Studies(2022)

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In nations where colonialism persists such as Australia, scholars have identified the hegemony of a morally infused white farming imaginary. While this construction has traditionally been invested in heteropatriarchal ideologies our aim in this paper is to demonstrate how, in recent years, white middle-class farming women have been woven into this narrative through settler colonial logics. We take up this contention in the Australian context examining 100 posts to two major institutional Instagram accounts that feature farming women: @invisfarmer and @agrifuturesau. Using the lens of settler colonialism, and a visual and textual analysis, we identify how the “white middle-class woman farmer” is framed by discourses of white feminism and invisibility/visibility. We reveal the emergence of a narrow farming woman aesthetic which is bolstered by narratives which celebrate the “successful female farmer” and the “successful female farm leader”. In concluding the paper, we discuss the implications of the gendering of the white farming imaginary, and make a call for gender and rural studies scholars to de-centre and disaggregate the “white middle-class settler farming woman” subject position, through attending to settler colonialism and Indigenous scholarship in understandings of Australian rurality.
Indigenous,Settler colonialism,Australian rurality,Feminism,Social media,Farming women
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