Whose Business Is Speaking Out? The Bell Debate, Indigenous Stories and the Construction of White Feminist Expertise
This chapter is an attempt to think through the relationship between the experiences of survivors and their representation by feminist experts. This is examined through the lens of a significant controversy in Australian feminism, the ‘Bell debate’, which centred on the right of Diane Bell, a white American anthropologist, to ‘speak out’ about high levels of sexual violence in remote Aboriginal communities. Revisiting this debate, the chapter insists that postcolonial analyses of power relations between and among women are crucial for understanding the political and ethical responsibilities of feminists in relation to narratives of sexual violence. The Bell debate demonstrates, I argue, the importance of subjecting the actions of feminist interlocutors of women’s experiences to critical scrutiny.
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