This book draws on over twenty years' investigation of scientific archives in Europe, Australia, and other former British settler colonies. It explains how and why skulls and other bodily structures of Indigenous Australians became the focus of scientific curiosity about the nature and origins of human diversity from the early years of colonisation in the late eighteenth century to Australia achieving nationhood at the turn of the twentieth century. The last thirty years have seen the world's indigenous peoples seek the return of their ancestors' bodily remains from museums and medical schools throughout the western world. Turnbull reveals how the remains of the continent's first inhabitants were collected during the long nineteenth century by the plundering of their traditional burial places. He also explores the question of whether museums also acquired the bones of men and women who were killed in Australian frontier regions by military, armed police and settlers.
Paul Turnbull is Professor of History and Digital Humanities at the University of Tasmania, Australia, and Honorary Professor in History at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is the author of numerous essays on Western biomedical interest in the indigenous peoples of Oceania and is co-editor of The Dead and Their Possessions: Repatriation in Principle, Policy and Practice (2004) and The Long Journey Home: the Meanings and Values of Repatriation (2010).
1: Introduction: 'To What Strange Uses'.- 2: European Anatomists and Indigenous Australian Bodily Remains, c. 1788-1820.- 3: Skeletal Collecting before Darwin.- 4: Indigenous Remains in British Anatomical and Ethnographic Discourse, 1810-1850.- 5: The Indigenous Body and British Polygenists, 1820-1880.- 6: 'Rare Work for the Professors': Phrenologists and the Australian Skull, c. 1815-1860.- 7: Colonial Museums and the Indigenous Dead, c. 1830-1874.- 8: 'Judicious Collectors', 1870-1914.- 9: 'Tales of Blood and Mummies': The Queensland Museum, 1870-1914 .- 10: Anthropological Collecting and Colonial Violence in Late Nineteenth Century Australia.- 11. Indigenous Australians' Defence of the Ancestral Dead.- 12: Repatriation and Its Critics.- 13: Conclusion.