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This chapter investigates the contrasting rationalities of government in the Australian-administered territories of Papua and the Northern Territory. It takes as its point of departure the ethnographic collections associated with two figures central to Australian native policy: the anthropologist, museum director, and colonial administrator Baldwin Spencer and the anthropological patron and lieutenant governor of Papua Hubert Murray. These collections and the mechanisms in which they were enrolled constituted contrasting transactional realities ordering the relations between governors and governed. In the Northern Territory, this concerned the ways in which “race” was used to advance a policy of eugenics, and in Papua, the ways in which “native culture” was implicated in a policy of salvage colonialism. What is striking is a particular empirical conundrum: how was it that despite sharing the same central administrative authority, broad intellectual milieu, and personnel, colonial rule in the Northern Territory turned toward eugenics and in Papua toward salvage?

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