'Uplifting' white men: marriage, maintenance and whiteness in Queensland, 1900-1910



Publication Details

Probyn-Rapsey, F. (2009). 'Uplifting' white men: marriage, maintenance and whiteness in Queensland, 1900-1910. Postcolonial Studies: culture, politics, economy, 12 (1), 89-106.


The Apology to the Stolen Generations in the Australian Federal Parliament on 13 February 20082 called on non-indigenous Australians to imagine and understand the pain experienced by Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families between 1910 and 1970. The Apology prompts the need for a deeper understanding of the roles of whites and of whiteness3 in this history. The fact that the majority of indigenous children stolen had white fathers or grandfathers deserves further scrutiny, particularly as removal under the policy of 'breeding out the colour'4 (a policy proclaimed in 1937) situated the 'white father' as central (both problem and solution) to the biological assimilation of Aboriginal people. In relation to the enormity of the pain and suffering inflicted on Aboriginal people by the policy of removal, questions about the 'white father' might seem insignificant, even supererogatory. But an analysis of the role of white fathers can serve to outline how discourses of whiteness, masculinity and paternalism are produced alongside histories of assimilation. This relatively small, but nevertheless significant part of Stolen Generations history is the subject of this article, narrowed down to a selection of letters between white men and Protectors,5 and debates in the Queensland Parliament between 1900 and 1910.

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