The South African War: Points of Fracture
This chapter looks at the peculiarly Australian anxieties over racial and cultural decay in relation to the South African War. Attempts to relieve these anxieties saw recourse to tropes of superior Australian land productivity and territorial inheritance. Local newspapers seized the chance to compare settler Australians to their Chinese, Boer, African and Aboriginal others. But this rhetoric became ensnared in contradictions of racial origin and territorial possession. These comparisons exemplified the shifting nature of race in both sustaining and weakening historical narratives. The chapter also shows how narratives of British racial superiority and land productivity were related to ideas of the manly colonial soldier and gendered concerns over the maternal bearers of white Britishness.