Jacqui Baker


Jacqui is researching the women’s liberation movement in Melbourne. In particular, she is interested in the way that the movement has been remembered by those who participated in it.

Jacqui has conducted oral history interviews which focus on how participants first became involved in the women’s liberation movement, in what ways they were involved and when participants thought the movement ended. These interviews contribute new perspectives, experiences and voices to the history of the women’s liberation movement in Australia that have thus far been underrepresented.

In addition, Jacqui’s research will draw out the specificities of the movement in Melbourne. This research also engages with newsletters and posters located within the Victorian Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archive, which is housed in the University of Melbourne Archive.

  • What first sparked your interest in your field and how has that interest led you to your topic of research?

    My Honours thesis examined the experiences of, and interactions between, lesbian feminists within place and space. My interest in the women’s liberation movement in Melbourne grew from there. After completing my Honours year, I was struggling to decide whether to pursue a PhD or a Master of Cultural Heritage. While I was trying to decide, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to volunteer at the Victorian Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archive. I worked on a project that involved re-cataloguing the immense poster collection held in this archive. Through this project I was coming into contact with posters that advertised women’s liberation and lesbian feminist events, fundraisers, cultural activities and launches. I was finding that many of the activities and events advertised on the posters where either absent or underrepresented in the histories that had been written about the women’s liberation movement so far. Curiosity, and a desire to tease out the specificities of the movement in Melbourne, led me to pursue a PhD!

    In 2018 I started volunteering at 3RRR as a graveyard and fill in broadcaster. I have a keen interest in interviews and talk based radio, as well as an appreciation for what 3RRR does for the community in Melbourne. The audio and interview skills that I have developed at 3RRR helped to further my interest in oral history.

  • You are stuck on a desert island with four books. Three are related to your field/area and one isn’t. Which books do you bring with you?

    Related to my field:

    The seventies: The personal, the political and the making of modern Australia, Michelle Arrow.

    Unnamed desires: A Sydney lesbian history, Rebecca Jennings.

    Brazen Hussies: A herstory of radical activism in the women’s liberation movement in Victoria, Jean Taylor.

    Unrelated to my field:

    Oranges are not the only fruit, Jeanette Winterson.

  • You are having a dinner party and can invite three guests from your field/area. Who do you invite?

    Conducting oral history interviews has meant that I have been able to meet some of the women’s liberationists and lesbian feminists whom I admire. Two women’s liberationists who I would love to speak with, but who passed away before I started my oral history project, are Thelma Solomon and Bon Hull. Aileen Moreton Robinson has also been influential to me as a feminist historian; I would love to invite her too.

  • Writing is a big part in the HDR process. Do you have any rituals that help you get in the writing mood/vibe/mindset?

    I prepare a coffee or a lemon grass and ginger tea before I start writing (with regular breaks for refills). I get easily distracted, so I tend to write my best when I write in silence.

  • If you could research another area/field/topic outside of your current area/field/topic, what would you research?

    Women’s sport! I find the history of women’s participation in sport in Australia really interesting.

  • What do you do to relax and unwind after a long day of research/writing?

    I am writing this in the midst of Melbourne’s stage 4 COVID19 lockdown, so I try and do things at the end of the day to help create a break between “work” and “home” time. Lately that has involved exercising, binge watching Netflix , reading (I enjoy a mixture of fiction, memoir and graphic novels), listening to podcasts or playing video games. Prior to the impact of COVID19, I enjoyed going out to dinner and a movie with my partner or filling in on 3RRR. 

  • What has been the highlight of your candidature so far?

    Oral history interviews! As I mentioned before, through conducting oral history interviews I have been lucky enough to meet women’s liberationists and lesbian feminists whom I admire. I also really enjoy the interview process (and I’m also a bit of an audio nerd) so being able to develop my skills in these two areas has also been a candidature highlight.

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