Professor Lynette Russell received an Honorary Fellowship in order to work on her book manuscript, Ethnography and Victorian culture.
Lynette's project explored the role of Aboriginal people in the development of anthropological thought. The records of early observers, such as AW Howitt and W Baldwin Spencer, William Thomas and George Augustus Robinson, James (and Isabella) Dawson are replete with discussions of and with Aboriginal people. While these materials have been mined for their information on customs and habits, they have not been studied with an eye towards the agency of those being observed. Indeed, when colonial experts investigated the 'Australian Aborigine' as an object of study, they almost completely effaced the impact Aboriginal people had upon the constitution of that knowledge.
This project will examine those early observers' records, diaries and notebooks housed in the State Library's collection. By tracing the ways in which their roles as colonial administrators brought protectors and others into intimate contact with Aboriginal people, this project will unravel the cross-racial network that underwrote the production of ideas about race. Importantly, this project will recover the voices and impacts of Aboriginal people that were effaced in the presentation of anthropological knowledge in this period and redress a continuing silence in Victorian ethnography.