Summary

'The Australian Aborigine' by anatomist and anthropologist, Andrew Arthur Abbie (1905-1976). It was first published in the journal 'Oceania', December 1951, Vol. XXII. No. 2. This edition is a 1952 reprint by the Australasian Medical Publishing Company Limited. The article's author, Abbie, moved from England to Australia in the 1920s and in the 1950s wrote his first paper about Indigenous Australia. During his career he authored over 120 articles. This particular publication explores Indigenous Australia's "...origin, ethnological affinities, physical characteristics, antiquity in Australia and relationship to the Tasmanian..." in anthropomorphic terms.

Physical Description

This publication does not have a cover and is held together at the spine by two metal staples. It has 20 pages front and back, 11 of which are text based on matt paper and four that are picture plates on glossy paper. The remaining six pages are blank.

Significance

This publication succinctly reflects the social and historical context in which it was produced. A.A. Abbie conducted anthropomorphic research to construct scientific findings regarding the physical and mental characteristics of Australian Indigenous people. In doing so he reaffirms the culturally constructed idea that scientific knowledge holds greater worth and objectivity than other forms of knowledge and that the use of scientific classification is a valid form of understanding unknown peoples. It has been argued by theorists (namely Focault) that getting to know a group of people is a first step to governing them. In the case of Australian Aboriginal people, it was felt by many that 'cataloguing' Aboriginal types was necessary to ensure their dying race was adequately documented and understood before its extinction, and to also provide better 'protective supervision' as a means of slowing down this process. Abbie also used his scientific discourse to argue against popular notions that the Aboriginal race was inferior to European races. However, he does so by creating similar notions under the guise of science, such as that after proper education and training, Australian Aboriginal people may come up to par with New Zealand Maoris' mental capabilities.

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