Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Annotated Henry Reynolds (Part 2)

More from the Coburg Library copy of the Penguin edition of the The Other Side of the Frontier with annotations by anon.

Why was this idea so pervasive? To begin with it is important to stress that far from being an example of childlike fancy or primitive irrationalitythis view of the European was a logical belief premised on important and widley shared beliefs.

does not want this to appear stupid (which they are not) but says this so our opinion is not left up to us

Chapter 2, "Continuity and Change", p 31

... A contemporary scholar has written that:

Owing to the Australian kinship system everybody is - or can be - related to everybody else ... The unknown regions outside the familiar lands do not belong to the 'world' - just as unfriendly or mysterious foreigners do not belong to the community of men, for they may be ghosts, demonic beings or monsters.

does not trust us the reader to reach the same conclusions
Chapter 2, "Continuity and Change", p 31

... The anthropologists Elkin, Berndt and Reay discovered the amazing vitality of the Aboriginal view of the world while working with fringe and mission-dwelling blacks in New South Wales and Queensland in the 1930s and 1940s one hundred years after the initial dispossession.

why "amazing"? He really wants us to home into the poin
[sic] that we didn't understand them at all.
Chapter 2, "Continuity and Change", p 58

It seems probable that there were many stories like these ones. They were obviously important because they allowed the seemingly powerless and abject blacks to go on believing in the potency of their culture and in the ability of the 'men of high degree' to harm and humbel even the domineering white boss. Magic then was a crucial factor in the psychological resistance to the Europeans.

how do you know this for sure? I think that overall it would have "failed"

Chapter 3, "Resistance: Motives and Objectives", p 94

Once restored to European society Morrell appears to have made little attempt to shield his companions of seventeen years from the onslaught of the frontier settlers. Their attempt at negotiation was swept aside as being unworthy of consideration.

strong value judgement by Reynolds ... his opinion of what should have been ... tone is more than clear

Chapter 4, "Resistance: Tactics and Traditions", p 117

Between 1878 and 1880 the part-Aborigine* Johnny Campbell defied the police in a wide area of south-east Queensland during which time he was the 'sable terror of the whole Wide Bay District'.

* - use of offensive language

Chapter 4, "Resistance: Tactics and Traditions", p 119

... Discipline was maintained by the older men who managed both the pace at which the young were initiated and the bestowal of women and girls as they became available for marriage. While the fully initiated men controlled the only possible, or conceivable, passes on to the plateau of full adulthood their authority over the young remained unshaken. The Europeans, often unwittingly, challenged that dominance ...

was it really just the men who did this? Maybe the people just talked to the men expecting this to be the case & ignored the authority of women.

Chapter 5, "The Politics of Contact", p 130

Where the old men continued to exert their authority they were able to use their control over the bestowal of women to discipline the young men. F. J. Gillen reported the case of a young central Australian man who ... had missed out on initiation and the related operations of circumcision and subincision ... Gillen explained the circumstances:

One day he came to me and said 'I think I will go and get cut' ... and I said 'look here Jim, you are a fool to submit to that'. He said in reply 'Well I can't put up with the cheek of the women and children. They will not let me have a lubra and the old men will not let me know anything about my countrymen.'

it sounds like in this tribe clan at least, that the decision of marriage was not exclusive to the old men.

Chapter 5, "The Politics of Contact", p 133

Clearly the European invasion put great pressure on indigenous political organization and undermined traditional authority. But did the new patterns of leadership emerge as a response to the white challenge? It is by any reckoning a complex question and will take some time to answer. The problem is compounded because Europeans who provided most of the evidence often believed that either Aboriginal society had a system of chiefs or should acquire one ...

So too they could have ignored the authority of women.

Chapter 5, "The Politics of Contact", p 135

The idea that rogue Europeans were responsible for tribal resistance served two functions - like any conspiracy theory it could be used to explain away black hostility while at the same time confirming white belief in Aboriginal incompetence.

Reynolds does not entertain the possibility at all perhaps because of the unfavourable connotations.

Chapter 5, "The Politics of Contact", p 136

... The West Australian pioneer G. F. Moore was handing out Government rations to a group of blacks at York when one man came forward saying 'Give it to me, I, Darrama am the Governor among the Yoongar, as your Governor is among the white men'.

B so women's authority could have been undermined as it was in white society

Chapter 5, "The Politics of Contact", p 138

The case of the Tasmanian woman Walyer is even more interesting although the evidence is fragmentary ... She spoke English, could use guns and had presumably adopted other aspects of European culture ... She was ... 'at the head of an Aboriginal banditti' and was known to issue her orders 'in a most determined manner'.

if men were so dominant in traditional society how then could she have been so influential?

Chapter 5, "The Politics of Contact", p 139

It was difficult to persuade Aborigines to accept the inequalities of white society ... They do not 'understand exalted rank' wrote a Victorian clergyman, 'and in fact, it is difficult to get into a blackfellow's head that one man is higher than another'.

if men were in some cases superior to women how could this come about?

Chapter 5, "The Politics of Contact", p 151

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