'Colour must breed out in time': listening to whiteness in "Blue Hills"

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In the mid-twentieth century radio played an important role in the construction of Australia’s ‘imagined community’. It transcended spatial boundaries and fostered the development of what Joy Damousi called a ‘listening self’, where listeners were forced—or freed—to imagine the pictures to accompany the sounds and words they heard ‘on the wireless’. So how did Australian audiences of the 1950s respond to author Gwen Meredith’s representation of Aboriginality and whiteness in her long-running ABC radio serial "Blue Hills"? In a controversial storyline, Meredith depicted a romance between Anderson Roberts and Sally Howard, a romance that was threatened when it was revealed, with great gravity, that Anderson could not marry Sally because he was a ‘quarter caste Aboriginal’. However, the romance ended happily in marriage when an anthropologist from Sydney University informed Sally that ‘colour must work out in time ... a throwback is a biological impossibility’. Through a detailed examination of this storyline, and the diverse reactions to it, this paper will reveal the ways that "Blue Hills" constructed a normative ideal of whiteness in 1950s Australia. It will also explore the possibilities of ‘listening’ to whiteness through audience responses to this serial.
LanguageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistoricising whiteness
Subtitle of host publicationtransnational perspectives on the construction of an identity
EditorsLeigh Boucher, Jane Carey, Katherine Ellinghaus
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherRMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne
Pages244-252
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781921166808
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventHistoricising Whiteness Conference (2006) - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 22 Nov 200624 Nov 2006

Publication series

NameMelbourne University conference and seminar series
PublisherRMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne
Volume16
ISSN (Print)1875-1920

Conference

ConferenceHistoricising Whiteness Conference (2006)
CountryAustralia
CityMelbourne
Period22/11/0624/11/06

Fingerprint

Whiteness
Romance
1950s
Storylines
Anthropologists
Aboriginality
Sound
Gravity
Imagined Communities
Marriage
Ideal
Listeners
Impossibility
Caste

Keywords

  • radio
  • audiences
  • whiteness
  • assimilation
  • Blue Hills

Cite this

Arrow, M. (2007). 'Colour must breed out in time': listening to whiteness in "Blue Hills". In L. Boucher, J. Carey, & K. Ellinghaus (Eds.), Historicising whiteness: transnational perspectives on the construction of an identity (pp. 244-252). (Melbourne University conference and seminar series; Vol. 16). Melbourne: RMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne.
Arrow, Michelle. / 'Colour must breed out in time' : listening to whiteness in "Blue Hills". Historicising whiteness: transnational perspectives on the construction of an identity. editor / Leigh Boucher ; Jane Carey ; Katherine Ellinghaus. Melbourne : RMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne, 2007. pp. 244-252 (Melbourne University conference and seminar series).
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abstract = "In the mid-twentieth century radio played an important role in the construction of Australia’s ‘imagined community’. It transcended spatial boundaries and fostered the development of what Joy Damousi called a ‘listening self’, where listeners were forced—or freed—to imagine the pictures to accompany the sounds and words they heard ‘on the wireless’. So how did Australian audiences of the 1950s respond to author Gwen Meredith’s representation of Aboriginality and whiteness in her long-running ABC radio serial {"}Blue Hills{"}? In a controversial storyline, Meredith depicted a romance between Anderson Roberts and Sally Howard, a romance that was threatened when it was revealed, with great gravity, that Anderson could not marry Sally because he was a ‘quarter caste Aboriginal’. However, the romance ended happily in marriage when an anthropologist from Sydney University informed Sally that ‘colour must work out in time ... a throwback is a biological impossibility’. Through a detailed examination of this storyline, and the diverse reactions to it, this paper will reveal the ways that {"}Blue Hills{"} constructed a normative ideal of whiteness in 1950s Australia. It will also explore the possibilities of ‘listening’ to whiteness through audience responses to this serial.",
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Arrow, M 2007, 'Colour must breed out in time': listening to whiteness in "Blue Hills". in L Boucher, J Carey & K Ellinghaus (eds), Historicising whiteness: transnational perspectives on the construction of an identity. Melbourne University conference and seminar series, vol. 16, RMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, pp. 244-252, Historicising Whiteness Conference (2006), Melbourne, Australia, 22/11/06.

'Colour must breed out in time' : listening to whiteness in "Blue Hills". / Arrow, Michelle.

Historicising whiteness: transnational perspectives on the construction of an identity. ed. / Leigh Boucher; Jane Carey; Katherine Ellinghaus. Melbourne : RMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne, 2007. p. 244-252 (Melbourne University conference and seminar series; Vol. 16).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionResearchpeer-review

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Arrow M. 'Colour must breed out in time': listening to whiteness in "Blue Hills". In Boucher L, Carey J, Ellinghaus K, editors, Historicising whiteness: transnational perspectives on the construction of an identity. Melbourne: RMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne. 2007. p. 244-252. (Melbourne University conference and seminar series).