INTRODUCTION
C O L O N I A L I S M , P H O T O G R A P H Y, M I M E S I S
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In 1870 a request from the famous Darwinist, Oxford professor Thomas
HenryHuxley—seekingimagesofnaked,uniformlyposed‘‘specimens’’—
waspolitelyrejectedbyRobertBroughSmythoftheBoardfortheProtec-
tion of the Aborigines, who explained that the Aboriginal people of Vic-
toriawere‘‘notsufficientlyenlightenedtosubmitthemselvesinastateof
nudityforportraitureinordertoassisttheadvancementofScience.Indeed
they are careful in the matter of clothing, and if I empowered a photog-
raphertovisitthestationsandtakephotographswithProfessorHuxley’s
instructionsinhishand,hewouldIamsureoffendtheAboriginesandmeet
withlittlesuccess.’’1Smythhadwrittenthe1878studyTheAboriginesofVic-
toria,andhisresponsecarriesahintofprofessionalrivalry.2
Itwasalsore-
provinglypaternal:asthelocalexperthespokeconfidentlyforhischarges,
manyofwhomheknewtobeChristians,literate,andconcernedfortheir
respectable appearance. And in this hewas right—the Aboriginal people
were sensitive to their representation byoutsiders and, given the chance,
were well able to speak for themselves, as visiting French photographer
DésiréCharnaydiscoveredatCoranderrkAboriginalStationthefollowing
year:hecomplainedthathisplanstomakeanthropometricphotographs
oftheresidentswerethwartedas‘‘inmyseconddayofwork,thenatives
announced to me that henceforth five shillings per person would be re-
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