Nationhood and the ‘Pure’ Race (part 2) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

 

Historians suggest that such reports simply confirmed prejudices based on doctrines of evolutionary and intellectual difference. These reports were to lend support to the European scientific discourse of the Great Chain of Being, which arranged all living things in a hierarchy, beginning with the simplest creatures, ascending through the primates and to humans. It was also practice to distinguish between different types of humans. Through the hierarchical chain the various human types could be ranked in order of intellect and active powers. The Europeans – being ‘intelligent and God-fearing’ – were invariably placed on the top, whilst the Aborigines – as perceived savages – occupied the lowest scale of humanity, slightly above the position held by the ape. Such ideas were carried to and widely circulated in the Australian colonies and helped shape attitudes towards the Aborigines. So dominant was the concept that it helped … “develop pre-conceived attitudes towards – and arguably the fate of – the Aborigines even before the colonisation” (Henry Reynolds, 1987:108). Reynolds argues that the image of the Aborigine simply confirmed prejudices based on doctrines of evolutionary difference and intellectual inferiority. These prejudices, he endeavours to suggest, were based on a construction of Aborigines where the Europeans were more credited with knowing more about the Aborigines than the Aborigines knew about themselves.

 

Source: Nationhood and the ‘Pure’ Race (part 2) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

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