Constructing aboriginality: Archibald Meston's literary journalism, 1870-1924

Taylor, Cheryl (2003) Constructing aboriginality: Archibald Meston's literary journalism, 1870-1924. Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, 2. pp. 121-139.

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Abstract

Archibald Meston’s political appointments and Government-sponsored reports, two of which provided a basis for the ironically entitled Aboriginal Protection Act of 1897, (Queensland Aboriginals and “Report on the Aboriginals”) are often referred to in analyses of Queensland history.1 This professedly humane legislation, frequently identified as a principal determinant of Aboriginal post-settlement experience, established a rigid system of reserves amounting to a Queensland version of Apartheid. By encouraging the imposition of minutely detailed bureaucratic controls, it destroyed Aboriginal autonomy, in practice until new legislation was passed in 1965 and 1971 (Rowley 179; Loos, “A Chapter of Contact” 22). Beyond the leading part which Meston played in the framing of the Act and in his office of Protector, he acted also as racial intermediary and interpreter of Aboriginal culture to the state’s white population. The hundreds of poems, stories and articles, many dealing with Aboriginal issues, which he published over the fifty-year span between 1870 and his death on 11 March 1924, were Meston’s chief means of raising his profile and maintaining himself in these roles.2 The significance of these publications has yet to be explored. This preliminary study aims to extend cultural understanding by examining the shaping of indigenous and Anglo-European interaction in Meston’s literary journalism, work which, both in its period and subsequently, contributed significantly to the complex dynamics of Queensland race relations.

Item ID: 6702
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Australian history; Australian literature; literary journalism
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ISSN: 1833-6027
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2010 22:27
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 100%
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