Settler Impressions of Aboriginal Women
UWA Publishing 2016
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Australian and New Zealand StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Native American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network March 16, 2017 Taylor Fox-Smith
In an activist application of her scholarly discipline, Dr Liz Conor’s Skin Deep: Settler Impressions of Aboriginal Women (UWA Publishing, 2016) acknowledges its dual potential to disturb and to incite a reckoning – giving life to Audre Lorde’s famous quote that the learning process is something to be incited, like a riot. Using travelogues, cartoon strips, missionary diaries, paintings and lithographs, just to name a few, Dr. Conor’s consultation of a vast colonial archive challenges the amnesia in our national record and, accordingly, the racism and misogyny of our cultural imaginary. Recreating the settler-colonial imaginary and the tropes and stereotypes it projected in the imperial enterprise of knowledge production about Aboriginal women, Skin Deep exposes the interlocking oppressions of gender and race that manifested in the 18th, 19th and 20th century. From the innocent native-belle, to the beaten captive bride, the cannibalistic mother to the bare-footed domestic worker, the sexualised metonym of the virginal land to the unsightly, malevolent matriarch, the Aboriginal women was reduced by the settler to a canvas – recklessly painted with the ideologies, expectations and ambitions of the empire – making the Aboriginal women devastatingly skin-deep.
Taylor Fox-Smith is teaching gender studies at Macquarie University and researching the gender gap in political behaviour and psychology at the United States Studies Centre in Sydney, Australia. Having received a Bachelor of International and Global Studies with first class Honours in American Studies at the University of Sydney, Taylor was awarded the American Studies Best Thesis Award for her work titled The Lemonade Nexus. The thesis uses the theme of marital infidelity in Beyonce’s 2016 visual album Lemonade as a popular cultural narrative of institutional betrayal, and parallels it with police brutality in Baltimore city. It argues that the album provides an alternative model of political formation which can help to understand redemption in the wake of an urban uprising. Rewriting the traditional protest to politics narrative with an iterative nexus named after the album, Taylor’s research continues to straddle political science, gender studies and popular culture.