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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Fiona Probyn-Rapsey investigates reports that Dr Cecil Cook, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Protector of Aborigines from 1927 to 1939 in the Northern Territory, was an albino. Her research leads her to conclude 'that Cook's "albinism" is possibly a fiction of Herbert's or it is an association built upon an image of extreme or excessive whiteness that inhabits Herbert's fiction, politics and letters. While the attribution of albinism to Cook's body is, I believe, a misreading, it is also instructive and revealing, because it inadvertently capitalises on (or makes literal or corporeal) Herbert's interests in securing Australia for a certain kind of whiteness - one that did not lack "colour', by which is meant, more accurately, indigeneity.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y JASAL Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature; Spectres, Screens, Shadows, Mirrors Special Issue Tanya Dalziell (editor), Paul Genoni (editor), 2007 Z1373275 2007 periodical issue 2007 pg. 157-173
    Note: http://www.nla.gov.au/openpublish/index.php/jasal/article/view/316

Works about this Work

White Closets, Jangling Nerves and the Biopolitics of the Public Secret Fiona Probyn , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , June vol. 26 no. 2 2011; (p. 57-75)
'This essay attempts to outline the relationship between the 'raw nerves' that Denis Byrne describes in the epigraph above, and the cultivation of 'indifference' that Stanner identifies as being characteristic of 'European life' in Australia. Here I situate indifference as numbing the 'jangling' of 'raw nerves' and as cultivated, disseminated and feeding specific forms of public secrecy. How did the white men who enforces segregation by day and pursued Aboriginal women by night manage their 'jangling nerves, if indeed they did jangle? How did they manage to be seen and known and have their secrets kept for them, as much as by them. How did this contradiction of segregation and sexual intimacy, if indeed it is a contradiction, work, My hope is that if we can understand how the white men (and those around them), regulated these jangling nerves, then we might be able to understand the relationship between indifference, public secrecy and the biopolitical forms that Australian whiteness took in the twentieth century, and specifically in the period of assimilation, extending from the 1930s to, roughly, the end of the 1960s.' (Author's introduction p. 57)
White Closets, Jangling Nerves and the Biopolitics of the Public Secret Fiona Probyn , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , June vol. 26 no. 2 2011; (p. 57-75)
'This essay attempts to outline the relationship between the 'raw nerves' that Denis Byrne describes in the epigraph above, and the cultivation of 'indifference' that Stanner identifies as being characteristic of 'European life' in Australia. Here I situate indifference as numbing the 'jangling' of 'raw nerves' and as cultivated, disseminated and feeding specific forms of public secrecy. How did the white men who enforces segregation by day and pursued Aboriginal women by night manage their 'jangling nerves, if indeed they did jangle? How did they manage to be seen and known and have their secrets kept for them, as much as by them. How did this contradiction of segregation and sexual intimacy, if indeed it is a contradiction, work, My hope is that if we can understand how the white men (and those around them), regulated these jangling nerves, then we might be able to understand the relationship between indifference, public secrecy and the biopolitical forms that Australian whiteness took in the twentieth century, and specifically in the period of assimilation, extending from the 1930s to, roughly, the end of the 1960s.' (Author's introduction p. 57)
Last amended 9 Aug 2010 11:10:15
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