The world of New Zealand women who committed crimes, and were punished for them, remains a shadowy one. This project looks at the period between the start of World War I and 1960, and examines the specifics of women’s offending and responses to it. It asks what these tell us about shifting gender norms and the material conditions of women’s lives. What kinds of crimes did women commit, and which types of women were most likely to be punished? Research so far has revealed the existence of complex ideas about public and private space, motherhood, sexuality, ‘delinquency’, race, class and social status.
The research draws upon sources in the public domain. Publications to date, co-researched and written with Fairleigh Evelyn Gilmour, include:
Gilmour, F.E. and Brickell, C. (forthcoming) ‘Media Representations of Criminalized Women in 1950s Aotearoa New Zealand’, in V. Nagy and G. Rychner (eds), Women’s Criminalisation and Offending in Australia and New Zealand, Abingdon: Routledge.
Brickell, C. and Gilmour, F. (2019) ‘The Dialectics of Motherhood in 1950s New Zealand’, Journal of Family History, 44(4): 413-430.