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Week 14: The Pacific Challenge

The colonization and settlement of Australia and New Zealand had many of the devastating consequences of the ‘Columbian Exchange’ in the Americas, as imported diseases, conquest, and displacement reduced the Aboriginal Australian and Maori populations. While Europeans adapted nascent ideas about tropical health to the Pacific, the indigenous peoples of the region attracted particular attention from anthropologists eager to match their ideas of evolutionary development to the inhabitants of the ‘land of living fossils’ (in the words of Tom Griffiths). In this session, we’ll examine the consequences of the rapid expansion of British settlers into Australia and New Zealand, and how their experiences shaped ideas about race, medicine, and identity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Discussion Questions:

-What were the medical consequences of European settlement in Oceania?

-How did ideas about race and the environment influence medical theory and practice in Oceania?

-Why did anthropologists consider the Aboriginal populations of the Pacific particularly primitive?

-How did public health measures reflect racial ideologies in Australia and New Zealand?

Required Readings:

**Warwick Anderson, The Cultivation of Whiteness: Science, Health and Racial Destiny in Australia (Melbourne, 2002), ‘Ch. 7: From Deserts the Prophets Come,’ pp.191-224. [e-book]

*Linda Bryder; ‘A New World? Two Hundred Years of Public Health in Australia and New Zealand’, in Dorothy Porter (ed.), The History of Public Health and the Modern State (Amsterdam, 1994), pp. 313–334.

*Tom Griffiths, Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia (Cambridge, 1996), 'Ch. 3: The Stone Age,' pp. 55-85.

*Malcolm Nicolson, ‘Medicine and Racial Politics: Changing Images of the New Zealand Maori in the Nineteenth Century’, in David Arnold (ed.) Imperial Medicine and Indigenous Societies (Manchester, 1988), pp. 66-104.

*Paul Turnbull, ‘British Anthropological Thought in Colonial Practice: The appropriation of Indigenous Australian bodies, 1860-1880’, in Bronwen Douglas and Chris Ballard (eds.), Foreign Bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race, 1750-1940 (Canberra, 2008), pp. 205- 228. [free online download:]

Further Readings:

Warwick Anderson, ‘Geography, Race and Nation: Remapping ‘Tropical’ Australia, 1890-1930,' Medical History 44 (2000), 146-159 [e-journal]

Alison Bashford, Imperial Hygiene: A Critical History of Colonialism, Nationalism and Public Health, 2nd Ed. (Basingstoke, 2014)

Terry G. Birtles, ‘First Contact: Colonial European Preconceptions of Tropical Queensland Rainforest and its People,’ Journal of Historical Geography 23 (1997), 393-417. [e-journal]

Linda Bryder, ‘History of Medicine in Australia and New Zealand,’ in Mark Jackson (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine (Oxford, 2001), pp. 302-318 [e-book]

Mary Cawte, ‘Craniometry and Eugenics in Australia: R.J.A. Berry and the Quest for Social Efficiency’, Historical Studies, 22 (1986), 35-53.

Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe (900-1900) (Cambridge, 1986), 'Ch. 10: New Zealand,’ pp. 217-268. [e-book]

Bronwen Douglas and Chris Ballard (eds.), Foreign bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race, 1750-1940 (Canberra, 2008) [free online download:]

Richard Eves, ‘Unsettling Settler Colonialism: Debates over Climate and Colonization in New Guinea, 1875-1914,’ Ethnic and Racial Studies 28 (2005), pp.304-330 [e-journal]

Clive Gamble, ‘Archeology, History and the Uttermost Ends of the Earth—Tasmania, Tierra del Fuego and the Cape’, Antiquity, 66 (1992), 712-720

Roy MacLeod and Philip F Rehbock (eds.) Darwin’s Laboratory: Evolutionary Theory and Natural History in the Pacific (Honululu, 1994)

Alan Moorehead, The Fatal Impact: An Account of the Invasion of the South Pacific, 1767-1840 (London, 2000)

Tim Murray, ‘Tasmania and the Constitution of “The Dawn of Humanity”’, Antiquity, 66 (1992), 730-743.

Henry Reynolds, ‘Racial Thought in Early Colonial Australia’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 20 (1974), 45-53.

Paul Turnbull, ‘“Outlawed Subjects”: The Procurement and Scientific Uses of Aboriginal Heads, ca.1803-1835’, Eighteenth-Century Life, 22 (1998), 156-171. [e-journal]

____________, ‘Enlightenment Anthropology and the Ancestral remains of Australian Aboriginal people’, in Calder, Alex, Jonathan Lam, and Bridget Orr (eds.), Voyages and Beaches: Pacific encounters, 1769-1840 (Honolulu, 1999), pp. 202-225.