A Note on Photography and the Simulacral by Rosalind Krauss

By Rosalind Krauss

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Example text

But] the savage who has not been thus favoured is still by comparison underdeveloped . . His attention, not habitually directed to the problems of the universe, is easily tired. His knowledge is severely limited; his range of ideas is small. Credulous as a child, he is put off from the solution of a merely speculative question by a tale which chimes with his previous ideas, though it may transcend his actual experience. Hence many a deduction, many an induction, to us plain and obvious, has been retarded, or never reached at all; he is still a savage.

As federation approached, other colonies began to follow suit. This process was effectively completed by the outbreak of World War One, the conflict which, in nationalist mythology, constitutes the national baptism. For Indigenous people, however, the baptism of blood depended on whether or not their particular portion of it was 'full'. 38 This strategy was applied to children, whose natal links could more readily be obliterated. Assuming continued 'miscegenation', the policy of leaving behind a 'full-blood' population as the only officially recognized Aboriginal category would ensure that this category became an ever-dwindling one.

More generally, this procedure illuminates the projection onto Aborigines of European fantasies about Europe's own prehistory, fantasies whose origins were demonstrably independent of empirical Indigenous data. Walter Baldwin Spencer, who had studied anatomy under Maudsley at Oxford (where Tylor had recruited him for the museological work), had gone to Australia to take up the foundation chair in biology at the University of Melbourne. In 1894, the year of The Legend of Perseus, he went to Central Australia as the biologist on a scientific expedition financed and led by an Adelaide businessman, William Horn.

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