The Captive White Woman of Gippsland: In Pursuit of the Legend

TitleThe Captive White Woman of Gippsland: In Pursuit of the Legend
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsCarr, Julie
Number of Pages309
PublisherMelbourne University Press
CityCarlton, VIC

In the 1840s, in the fledgling settlement of Port Phillip, a rumor persisted that a white woman was being held captive by Aborigines in the Gipps Land bush. The reverberations of that rumor-- and of the actions it precipitated-- continue to this day. In the mid-1840s, as Port Phillip developed into a burgeoning provincial center, the White Woman rumor 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’ fueled 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. [publisher]

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