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The Ploy of InstinctVictorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance$
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Kathleen Frederickson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262519

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262519.001.0001

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Freud’s Australia

Freud’s Australia

(p.94) Three Freud’s Australia
The Ploy of Instinct

Kathleen Frederickson

Fordham University Press

While the nineteenth-century consolidation of the anthropological culture concept shifted ethnological interests away from the figure of the solitary “savage” to wider structures of communal governance, it nonetheless accommodated the eighteenth-century caricatures of instinctive and passionate “savages” by redeploying the terrain of the instinctive onto collective forms of social organization. At the same time, European instincts were believed to exist independent of either social or material influence. This distinction appears in Freud’s analogy of “savage” sociality and the European psyche in Totem and Taboo as a hesitation about whether law and custom are external to the “savage” psyche or constituent parts of it. Freud’s chief ethnological sources for Totem and Taboo—Lorimer Fison and A. W. Howitt’s Kamilaroi and Kûrnai (1880) and Baldwin Spencer and Frank Gillen’s Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899)—do not mention instinct, but their analyses of savage sociality nonetheless become the basis for Freud’s early instinct theory.

Keywords:   Psychoanalysis, History of anthropology, History of ethnology, Australia in the nineteenth century

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