The Cultivation of Whiteness

Science, Health, and Racial Destiny in Australia

The Cultivation of Whiteness

Book Pages: 400 Illustrations: 22 b&w photos, 4 maps, 3 figures Published: August 2006

Subjects
Postcolonial and Colonial Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

The Cultivation of Whiteness is an award-winning history of scientific ideas about race and place in Australia from the time of the first European settlement through World War II. Chronicling the extensive use of biological theories and practices in the construction and “protection” of whiteness, Warwick Anderson describes how a displaced “Britishness” (or whiteness) was defined by scientists and doctors in relation to a harsh, strange environment and in opposition to other races. He also provides the first account of extensive scientific experimentation in the 1920s and 1930s on poor whites in tropical Australia and on Aboriginal people in the central deserts.

“[Anderson] writes with passion, wit, and panache, and the principal virtues of The Cultivation of Whiteness are the old-fashioned ones of thoroughness, accuracy, and impeccable documentation. . . . [His] sensitive study is a model of how contentious historical issues can be confronted.”—W. F. Bynum, Times Literary Supplement

“One of the virtues of The Cultivation of Whiteness is that it brings together aspects of Australian life and history that are now more often separated—race and environment, blood and soil, medicine and geography, tropical science and urban health, biological thought and national policy, Aboriginality and immigration, the body and the mind. The result is a rich and subtle history of ideas that is both intellectual and organic, and that vividly evokes past states of mind and their lingering, haunting power.”—Tom Griffiths, Sydney Morning Herald

Praise

The Cultivation of Whiteness can usefully be read as a narrative of disciplinary growth and professionalization in tropical medicine. It also explores the enduring power of colonial medicine and medical geography to shape political decision-making through rich primary sources. . . . Anderson's use of wide-ranging source material is laudable and exciting. . . . [E]ssential and enjoyable reading for scholars of medicine and empire, certainly, but also for historians of the Progressive Era, of race, and of global and public health.” — Roberta Bivins, Technology and Culture

“[A] well-produced and well-argued book. . . . [It] should be widely read.” — Roy MacLeod, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

“Anderson deserves high praise for his exhaustive work with primary documents to sort out the complex network of players, institutions, and debates that make up Australia’s racial science history. One can only hope that this encyclopedic effort will enable a second generation of scholars to probe further the meanings and historiography behind that history.” — Elizabeth Green Musselman, ISIS

“This broad-ranging study builds on a considerable body of local research to produce the first comprehensive history of Australian medical and scientific ideas about race from the early nineteenth century to the 1940s. It is a work of major significance. Anderson has written both an authoritative and prescient synthesis and a work of original research, utilizing the letters, journals, publications, and other surviving documentation of local medical practitioners and scientists. It is a work distinguished by command of its field and clarity of exposition.” — Andrew Markus, American Historical Review

“[Anderson] writes with passion, wit, and panache, and the principal virtues of The Cultivation of Whiteness are the old-fashioned ones of thoroughness, accuracy, and impeccable documentation. . . . [His] sensitive study is a model of how contentious historical issues can be confronted.” — W. F. Bynum, TLS

“One of the virtues of The Cultivation of Whiteness is that it brings together aspects of Australian life and history that are now more often separated—race and environment, blood and soil, medicine and geography, tropical science and urban health, biological thought and national policy, Aboriginality and immigration, the body and the mind. The result is a rich and subtle history of ideas that is both intellectual and organic, and that vividly evokes past states of mind and their lingering, haunting power.” — Tom Griffiths, Sydney Morning Herald

“Warwick Anderson is one of the foremost historians of medicine and postcolonialism and The Cultivation of Whiteness one of the most detailed and persuasive explorations of exactly how scientific medicine is influenced by, and in turn promotes, racialization and racism.” — Priscilla Wald, Duke University

The Cultivation of Whiteness is a beautifully written, extensively researched, and conceptually robust account of what it meant to be white in Australia from the nineteenth to the early twentieth century.” — Elizabeth A. Povinelli, author of The Empire of Love: Toward a Theory of Intimacy, Genealogy, and Carnality

The Cultivation of Whiteness is an unusual and well-crafted history, a model of method for historical and anthropological studies of medicine and public health.” — Judith Farquhar, author of Appetites: Food and Sex in Post-Socialist China

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Warwick Anderson teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he is Chair of the Department of Medical History and Bioethics; Robert Turell Professor of Medical History and Population Health; and Professor of the History of Science, Science and Technology Studies, and Southeast Asian Studies. He is the author of Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

The Temperate South

1. Antipodean Britons 11

2. A Cultivated Society 41

The Northern Tropics

3. No Place for a White Man 73

4. The Making of the Tropical White Man 95

5. White Triumph in the Tropics? 139

6. Whitening the Nation 165

Aboriginal Australia

7. From Deserts the Prophets Come 191

8. The Reproductive Frontier 225

Conclusion: Biology and Nation 253

Abbreviations 259

Notes 261

Bibliography of Works Cited 329

Index 381
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3840-6
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