Re: helping anthropologists?

James Murphy (jmurphy@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU)
Wed, 1 Mar 1995 11:00:24 -0500

> Daisy Bates as a lone woman anthropologist in the l9th century was
> concerned about conserving the culture of the aborigines which she
> thought Europeans were on the verge of rendering extinct. She lived
> among the a borigines formany years and collected valuable data about
> their cultures which Radcliffe-Brown was said to have purloined. She had
> given him these data on his promise to include her in his forthcoming
> exhibition, but he also broke this promise. Ruby Rohrlich

I'm sure one is tempted to say, "How like a man," or, more to the point, "How
like Radcliffe-Brown."

But the thrust of the original post did not concern the relationship between
Bates and Brown but that between Bates and the Australian aborigines--
specifically, the question of her objectivity in dealing with these people.
Some gauge of this objectivity may be found in Bates's statement, "The dear
people, I simply love them. They are just simple children and I would do
anything in the world I could to help them."

And while Bates undoubtedly is much more admirable a <person> than
Radcliffe-Brown, it misstates the facts somewhat to say that she gave him her
data contingent upon "his promise to include her in his forthcoming exhibition
[exposition?]". Bates actually was working for the Australian government,
which was paying her to write her book, which was being edited by Andrew Lang,
and it was the Australian Government that agreed to send her to England to
publish the book there. When the expedition headed by Radcliffe-Brownwas
announced, Lang sent R-B a chapter of Bates's ms., and R-B wrote to her saying
that "the material you have collected might perhaps be published with the
Reports of the Expedition" and <that if financing could be arranged,> he
intended to spend some six years in completing her researches. The Australian
Government then agreed that Bates could join the expedition, and R-B agreed
that he "would undertake to publish the work which Mrs Bates has already done
<by including it in the reports of the expedition." Mrs. Bates's qualms at
this arrangement, apparently justified, were answered by the under-secretary,
who assured her that "The Government may be relied upon to treat her in a
liberal spirit with regard to her M.S." In the end, this did not happen.
Lang died, and, according to Bates, R-B could not supply several hundred free
copies that the Australian Registrar-General had promised various people, <so
the Government released R-B from his undertaking> and returned the ms. to
Bates, who found it "mutilated" to the point of requiring a complete rewriting.
At the same time, Bates was pursuing independent publishing of her work by
MacMillan. Reasons for this never transpiring are suggested by a comment Lang
made to Radcliffe-Brown: "a red pencil would be needed in [Bates's] long and
wandering work." Radcliffe-Brown returned his partially edited copy of Bates's
ms. to the Australian government before his return to England. How much of it
he may have copied and/or subsequently plagiarized is another question, but it
seems evident that that it oversimplifies matters to say simply that he broke a
promise to include "her" in his "exhibition."

Quotations and other information on Bates and Radcliffe-Brown are from
Elizabeth Salter's <Daisy Bates> (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1972).

James L. Murphy