This work analyzes the politics of anthropological knowledge from critical perspective that alters existing understandings of colonialism. At the same time, it produces insights into the history of anthropology. Organized around an historical reconstruction of the great anthropological controversy over doctrines of virgin birth, the book argues that the allegation a great deal about European colonial discourse and little if anything about indigenous beliefs. By means of an Australian example, the book shows not only that the alleged ignorance was an artefact of the anthropological theory that produced it, but also that the anthropology was an artefact of the anthropological theory that produced it, but also that the anthropology concerened has been closely tied into both the historical dispossesion and the continuing oppresion of native peoples. The author explores the links between metropolitan anthropological theory and local colonial politics from the 19th century up to the present, settler colonialism, and the ideological and sexual regimes that characterize it.
Wolfe offers a history not so much of anthropology itself as of its ideological entanglements. He charts historically shifting ways in which an evolving tradition of metropolitan anthropology was turned to local ends at different stages in the development of Australian settler colonialism. He emphasizes that unlike many other places, Australia was colonized not to exploit the native population but to displace them from the land. His topics include virgin birth in anthropology and Australian settler discourse, sex and property in Victorian anthropology, and repressive authenticity. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)