Carr, Julie E.. (2001) The captive white woman of Gipps Land :in pursuit of the legend Carlton South, Vic. : Melbourne University Press,MLA Citation
Carr, Julie E.. The Captive White Woman Of Gipps Land: In Pursuit Of The Legend. Carlton South, Vic. : Melbourne University Press, 2001. Print.
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The captive white woman of Gipps Land : in pursuit of the legend /
Julie E. Carr.
|Main Author:||Carr, Julie E., 1948-|
|Physical Description:||xvii, 309 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
|Includes:||Includes bibliographical references (pages 282-300) and index.
|Review:||"In the 1840s, in the fledgling settlement of Port Phillip, a rumour persisted that a white woman was being held captive by Aborigines in the Gipps Land bush." "The reverberations of that rumour, and of the actions it precipitated, continue to this day." "In the mid-1840s, as Port Phillip developed into a burgeoning provincial centre, the White Woman rumour was deployed to serve numerous political and cultural ends. Sensationalist speculation in the colonial press about a white woman held in thrall by 'ruthless savages' fuelled anti-Aboriginal attitudes and provided justification for the taking of Kurnai lands. More broadly, the White Woman functioned as an emblematic figure: a focus for the concerns of a transplanted culture coming to terms with an unfamiliar land and its original inhabitants." "The publicly funded expedition to rescue the White Woman in 1846 constituted a defining event in Australian colonial history. However, despite private and government searches, the mysterious woman was never found and evidence for her existence remains inconclusive." "The elusive White Woman of Gipps Land spawned an Australian legend, one which continues to exert a hold on the imagination. Liam Davison's 1994 novel The White Woman is the most recent manifestation of its enduring power and interest." "The Captive White Woman of Gipps Land is a major study of the White Woman legend. It shows how the colonising process has shaped contemporary attitudes to Aboriginal land rights and national identity and explores the ongoing impact of the past on black-white relationships in this country."--BOOK JACKET.
"This is our first systematic analysis of the legend of the white woman in Gippsland. The legend of a white woman, the purported survivor of a shipwreck living with Aboriginal people of Gippsland against her will, had its origin in 1840. In 1846, the rumour ignited a public furore that saw a publicly funded expedition to rescue the woman. Neither this, nor the two subsequent searches conducted by government forces in 1846 and 1847, found the elusive white woman. The evidence for her existence remains inconclusive. It has been a powerful legend, appearing many times since in poetry and fictional accounts, the most recent being Liam Davidson’s The white woman published in 1994. Based on her doctoral research, Carr looks afresh at the white woman legend to examine the roles of historiography and storytelling in producing racial and cultural difference, and in the formulation of local, regional, and national identity (p. 3). The belief that there was a captive white woman originated with a newspaper account of an encounter of Angus McMillan and his party with an Aboriginal encampment in Gippsland. At the camp they found numerous European articles including the body of a deceased male child, wrapped in kangaroo skin bags. When the Aboriginal people were fleeing the European party, McMillan noticed that one of the women with them was ‘constantly looking behind her, at us’. They concluded that both the dead child and the woman were European, and that a ‘dreadful massacre’ must have been perpetrated. Carr’s analysis is that the story was a ‘cultural production emerging from a particular historical period and within a particular context. McMillan’s narrative about helpless femininity held in thralldom by ‘savages’, emerging as he opened up another frontier to European settlement, was a powerful counter to pro-Aboriginal sympathies which threatened to impede the squatters’ access to, and use of, tribal lands (p 27)’. The rumour facilitated and provided a pretext for the ongoing harassment of the Ganai through the mid-1840s (p. 52). For what it’s worth, I have always taken the view of Chief Protector George Augustus Robinson, that there was no truth in the white woman legend (p. 50). Nevertheless, the white woman legend has been a valued and contested cultural property for over 160 years. Its perennial appeal lies in the unresolved narrative tension emanating from the mystery of the woman’s existence (p. 178). In the final chapters in this book, Carr undertakes a discursive analysis, meticulously examining the various re-presentations of the legend. Julie Carr’s history and analysis of the white woman legend is authoritative, scholarly, and rigorous. It is highly recommended." --Ian D. Clark (University of Ballarat).