Show simple item record

dc.contributor.authorTurnbull, Paul
dc.contributor.editorMark Kishlansky
dc.description.abstractThis article considers how Aboriginal Australian bodily remains were procured and understood in British anatomical and phrenological circles from the beginning of Australian colonization in 1788 to the early 1830s. These years saw an important shift in European thinking about race. The idea that racial differences were the result of humanity's diversification from one ancestral type through environmental modification came to be challenged by "transmutationist" theories that conceptualized racial characteristics as markers of biological peculiarities between different human-like beings, quite possibly of primordial origin. The article shows how comparative anatomical analysis of Aboriginal Australian remains - often procured in violent circumstances - served to reinforce received environmentalist explanations of the nature and origins of human variation. However, the article also shows how in what they made of Aboriginal remains, subscribers to the concept of environmental degradation could be as fatalistic in their prognosis of the natural capacity of Aboriginal Australians to be progressively brought to embrace civilization as the transmutationist critics they began to encounter in earnest from the mid-1830s. In the hands of metropolitan British anatomists and phrenologists, Aboriginal bones were used so as to generate knowledge that had a pernicious impact on Australia's Indigenous inhabitants.
dc.publisherBlackwell Publishing
dc.publisher.placeUnited Kingdom
dc.relation.ispartofjournalHistory Compass
dc.subject.fieldofresearchHistorical Studies
dc.titleBritish Anatomists, Phrenologists and the Construction of the Aboriginal Race, c. 1790-1830
dc.typeJournal article
dc.type.descriptionC1 - Articles
dc.type.codeC - Journal Articles
gro.facultyArts, Education & Law Group, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences
gro.rights.copyright© 2007 Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at []
gro.hasfulltextNo Full Text
gro.griffith.authorTurnbull, Paul G.

Files in this item


There are no files associated with this item.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Journal articles
    Contains articles published by Griffith authors in scholarly journals.

Show simple item record