Talk:Bronwyn Bancroft

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Thanks to Malleus's meticulous review, the article text is far better than it once was. There is one niggling issue though: a revision of one sentence has produced this: "Bancroft has recalled that her father's aboriginality was an obstruction to his education." The original words were "...her father's aboriginality was used to prevent him from getting an education." The key distinction here is that his aboriginality was used by others (as an excuse), and not that aboriginality itself could obstruct education. The current wording could imply that being aboriginal was an obstruction; rather, being discriminated against was the obstruction, and aboriginality was the reason for discrimination. I'll see if i can think of another formulation. hamiltonstone (talk) 03:20, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Aboriginality (2)[edit]

Let's put this issue to rest: Being an 'artist' and an 'activist', this women is obviously so far left that she considers the Labour Party to be a bunch of neo-con fascists. That being said, people with her political stripe find it to their own benefit (financial or otherwise) to identify themselves as some sort of marginalized minority. Artists in particular do this for the attention they receive, which gratifies their ego and feeds their own narcissism. Obviously, the so-called 'sources' for her so-called 'aboriginality' will be people like her family, people she's worked with, and other people who support her... And they are not going to rain on her parade... So, she gets to be an aboriginal because she says she is, alright? As far as I'm concerned, she could self-identify as a martian if she wants to. Normal, balanced people will just laugh at her because she doesn't have green skin. (talk) 15:03, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

is she really an indigenous Australian as to be stated on the article. she looks completely white. she certainly may have aboriginal ancestry, but must be considered as such in the article?, she looks white, completly different from aboriginal Australians. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:47, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Aboriginality isn't tested using a colour chart. All sources - including the artist herself - agree on her Indigenous heritage. hamiltonstone (talk) 02:13, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Or is her aboriginal status notional, similar to Ward Churchill's claim to be an American Indian? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:52, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Try reading the article, or the sources. Her father was Aboriginal, her uncle is Aboriginal, she is Aboriginal. It isn't complicated. It isn't "notional", it isn't contested; it simply is not an issue. Why do you want to try and turn it into one? hamiltonstone (talk) 02:59, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
she obviously has white ancestry too, doesn't that make her white? or just aboriginal ancencetry counts? what would be the most accurate way to describe her —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:17, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
The most accurate way to describe her would be the way in which reliable sources describe her, which in this case is also the way in which she describes herself: an Indigenous Australian artist, a Bundjalung woman, and the daughter of an Indigenous man and a woman of Scottish–Polish ancestry. In other words, in exactly the terms used in the WP article. But feel free to locate a reliable source that describes her as a "white" artist and then discuss it on the talk page. hamiltonstone (talk) 06:23, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
Then she is at least as much European as Aboriginal, so therefore is mixed race. Nick Cooper (talk) 08:16, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
She's 1/4 Aboriginal at most; her father's father was a white man. Must be pretty nice to have a proven minority genotype, and capitalize on all sorts of white guilt, while at the same time appearing whiter than the average Southern European, and capitalize on pro-white discrimination. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:37, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands, AND these peoples' descendants. (Tim Flannery (1994), The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, ISBN 0730104222) She is both multiracial and an Indigenous Australian, perhaps? Alex Douglas (talk) 09:01, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

  • Is it worth mentioning that she self-identifies as an aboriginal person, even though three of her four grandparents were white? I heard Maori storyteller Rangimoana Taylor a few years back and in the course of his storytelling evening it became apparent that his situation was identical - three of his four grandparents were white, but he was raised by his mother and Maori maternal grandmother as a Maori and that is the identity he naturally chose to take. I guess it's the same with Bancroft. We read that Barack Obama self-identifies as black beacuse that's what he is, appearance-wise, despite being raised by the white part of his family; Bancroft is an example of the opposite of this, identifying with a group even though she does not physically resemble it. It just shows how fluid race and identity can be. (talk) 09:27, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments. In another context, yes, it might be a good idea. But don't you agree that the opening sentence implies her self-identification? "Bronwyn Bancroft (born 1958) is an Indigenous Australian artist, notable for being the first Australian fashion designer invited to show her work in Paris." WP would soon be in a lot of trouble if she didn't self-identify, I think. Let me know if there's a protocol issue I'm missing. Tony (talk) 09:36, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
but, should what she assures be written as a fact? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:41, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
Where to start?
  • Let's take this issue back to the sources. It isn't just Bancroft who says she is Aboriginal. All her biographers agree, including the McCullochs in the The new McCulloch's encyclopedia of Australian art, Ken Watson in he Oxford Companion to Aboriginal art and culture and de Brabander in Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia. These are in themselves extremely reputable sources. So, we are not relying on her self-identification in referring to her as Indigenous. However, self identification is also important. IP 86.133 draws on a good example. In this case, there is no contradiction between the reliable sources and self-identification: they point to the same conclusion.
  • None of the sources refer to her as "mixed race" or "multiracial" and those terms are not generally used in Australia: the former would probably be regarded as insulting - rather like calling a black American "coffee coloured" or a "mulatto". "Multicultural" might be used in Australia, but that term is seldom extended to Indigenous cultures, in my experience of its everyday use. But I return to the main point: not one of the reliable sources uses these terms. They use the language that is used in the article.
  • Although it isn't germane to this discussion, i'm not sure where one commentator above got the fact that her father's father was white: can someone point me to that?
I'll leave it there for now. hamiltonstone (talk) 10:37, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
"Mixed race" is used extensively in the UK, and carries none of the negative conotations that you suggest. As stated above, genetically Bancroft is clearly at least white European as Aboriginal. That commentators chose to err on one side does not negate the fact of the other. Nick Cooper (talk) 12:48, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
A few points:
  • She is Australian, not British, so that isn't the standard one would apply;
  • Genetics is not the issue. You do not require a particular percentage of a particular parentage do be Indigenous. Just ask Danie Mellor;
  • If genetics was the issue, then I'm still not aware of a source to indicate she was "more white than Aboriginal" BUT;
  • to repeat, that isn't the issue;
  • Actually, what the "commentators" (by which i assume you mean the scholarly researchers) say is all that matters: verifiability, not truth is the standard;
  • She says she is Indigenous, her community says she's Indigenous, all the sources say she's Indigenous; so there is no debate to be had in any case.
Regards, hamiltonstone (talk) 13:16, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
I never said she was British, I said that the term "mixed race" which you claimed would be "regarded as insulting" in Australia is not so viewed in the UK. In that context, your comparison with it and "mulatto" seems ludicrous. Even so, a cursory Google shows that "mixed race" is indeed in use in Australia, and does not appear to be regarded as offensive, e.g. [1]. Nick Cooper (talk) 16:57, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
No you didn't, but my point was that the article is about an Australian and an Australian reference point for the language would be preferable. Actually, if you read the whole of the page on which you found that use of "mixed race" it nicely summarises one of the main arguments i would have put here. Its text includes the following: "It is inappropriate and offensive to refer to an Indigenous person as 'part Aborigine' full-blood, half-caste. Avoid asking if one is quarter Aboriginal, one third Aboriginal etc. Keep the blood percentages out of your conversation!" hamiltonstone (talk) 23:54, 31 May 2010 (UTC)


I don't mean to be a racist, but I honestly didn't know that the Australian aborigines were white... (she looks Greek!) (talk) 09:33, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

I'll take this at face value: it is self-identification that really matters when it comes to aboriginality, in Australia and, I suspect, in New Zealand, North America and other places. Physical appearance is not a reliable indicator of cultural and genetic background, and should not be an issue. I suppose we live in the shadow of the unfortunate history of racial/cultural classification that has been used as an instrument of power—just as well we're trying to leave this sensitive matter firmly in the past. Thanks for your comment. Tony (talk) 09:40, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
It's a valid point though. The blurb says "indigeonous" but she's very obviously a white woman, and indeed 3 of her 4 grandparents are whites of European ancestry. There's going to be obvious reader disconnect between the subject's claim to a minority racial identity and visible...well, difference from what most readers will identify as an Australian aborigine. This isn't to argue that she's wrong about her identification, but rather it's shortsighted to expect no surprise from readers. Doubly so since it does not even clarify that she's of mixed race (or whichever term is deemed to be least loaded).
Compare to Tiger Woods. If his article stated in the initial line that he's Chinese (which is at least as true as saying Bancroft is indigeonous) it would be a a dubious claim, if not further clarified that both his parents were mixed race and he is also a quarter African, and an eighth each white and American Indian.
Not to belabor the point but isn't it at least fair, to readers if nothing else, to state that she is a person of mixed ancestry who identifies as indigeonous, perhaps further elaborating that this is for cultural reasons? For a featured article this is a glaring ommision. - (talk) 14:59, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
She has Aboriginal ancestors, she identifies as Aboriginal, reliable sources state she is Aboriginal but you want to over-rule this based on your subjective opinion of her skin colour? Perhaps we should describe her as an octoroon? But you're not racist, right? -- Mattinbgn\talk 22:21, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
That's a low blow, Mattinbgn. I came to this page with the same question. Bancroft has as much European ancestry as Aboriginal, and yet she has chosen not to recognise/identify with the European side of her ancestry. I was wondering why and think it is a valid avenue of enquiry for this article. Nothing racist in that. Just interested. (talk) 07:13, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
A very low blow. I guess when you don't have anything better to say, call someone a racist so they can't retort. Is it really subjective when the most common point of discussion on this page is "Gee, she doesn't LOOK aboriginal?" What am I wanting to overrule? It says right here in the article that she has a fully white parent, but the opening blurb mentions her only as aboriginal. Which is clearly not the whole truth. As for no basis in the sources to describe her as anything else...well, it says right there in the article that she's mixed race, at least by inference. - (talk) 14:24, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
"Aboriginal Australian" is never understood to mean a person whose only genetic heritage is Aboriginal. I think the number of questions raised nevertheless indicates that some additional citations and a fottnote need to be added to the article to help people understand the issues. i will tackle that soon. When someone questions a person's Aboriginality because of the colour of their skin, that is generally regarded as disrespectful at best, insulting or, at worst, racist. That is why the questions have elicited such a strong response from some editors here. To IP 76.177: saying she is an "Aboriginal Australian" is the whole truth in the sense that it is an entirely accurate use of the term. There is no such thing as "part Aboriginal" - it is not used as a term to denote a particular racial parental background - it is a cultural term. The article does not attempt to hide her parental background, just as she herself does not hide it, so in my view the text as it stands is entirely accurate and fully detailed. i will try and addres these queries through a footnote though. hamiltonstone (talk) 22:55, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Mattinbgn. A few things, but first a minor point: will someone please point me to the location where it says that one of her father's parents was not Aboriginal? It keeps coming up in this discussion, i'm the article's principal editor, I don't ever recall seeing this and I feel i'm missing something obvious.
  • The article clearly describes her ancestry: "She was the youngest of seven children of Owen Cecil Joseph Bancroft, known as "Bill"—an Indigenous Australian from the Djanbun clan—and Dot, who was of Scottish–Polish ancestry". It is right there, in the first two sentences of the article text.
  • The article is based on the reliable sources which invariably describe her as an Indigenous artist. There is no basis in the sources to describe her as anything else.
  • She is not a white woman. Hopefully this article will help people understand that not all Indigenous Australians can be found travelling through the desert scrub, chasing goannas, or giving directions to Crocodile Dundee. There are many other Indiginous Australians whose ancestry is complex, multicultural or simply unknown, tragically, even to themselves. An example about whom I have written is Danie Mellor, but there are many others. The important thing for Bancroft and others is their heritage, the way they are brought up, their family's culture and identity etc. Regards, hamiltonstone (talk) 00:22, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
But that's just it: "their heritage" is, in Bancroft's case, half European. I think two things are being muddled here: the fact of her genetic heritage, and the identity she has aligned herself with. The fact of her genetic identity is given short shrift in the article, while it clearly raises many questions in the readers, hence these long threads on the talk page. Okay, the sources say she is indigineous, she says she is indigineous and the indigineous community agrees with her: that doesn't negate the fact that she has a white aspect to her makeup. Why has she chosen not to acknowledge this half? What factors caused her to align herself with her indigineous side? What part did her white mother have in her early life and upbringing? Did her mother not pass on anything of her culture? It's notable that Bancroft's mother is only briefly mentioned, no nee, no other names, no discussion. Was she only fleetingly in Bancroft's life? You'd think so, from reading this. If I was feeling mischievous, I could say that Bancroft's rejection of half of her identity is in itself racist. (talk) 08:56, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
I think there is an interesting question you raise - "What factors caused her to align herself with her indigenous side?" - that Bancroft touches on in one or two of the interviews. It's something i'll revisit to see if i can draw out more on her father's influence, and the influence of that culture. But other points you raise are possibly either wide of the mark or not able to be addressed. Her genetic identity is not given "short shrift": its treatment reflects the fact that most sources and biographers would regard the genetic identity as being of limited importance. There is a sentence that pretty thoroughly describes the genetic identity, and that is all it takes. Incidentally, i think it would be better described as racial or ethnic, as the genes themselves are virtually indisinguishable. But anyway... If you look carefully at the article, and at the sources, neither of her parents looms large in her modern life. She does not neglect her mother compared to her father: rather, she emphasises her Indigenous identity. I think the mistake is to think that this is an identity she was 'given' by her father. That is, to some degree, a muddling of genetic/racial heritage and cultural heritage. Her Indigenous identity would have come to her in many ways: through her father yes, but through her wider family, through her community, through her interactions with her mother as a child (she mentions this in one interview IIRC) but most of all through her own direct lived experience - i mean that she would have developed an awareness of being Indigenous through her direct interactions with the broader community such as through school. Anyway, i'm not sure i've expressed this very well, and i accept that both of her parents are somewhat in the background of the article and, using her interviews, could be brought out more. I'll look into it. But not tonight! regards, hamiltonstone (talk) 12:09, 1 June 2010 (UTC)


I like what Obama once answered to a question of his race: "I am a mutt". But people do not care and most call him black or african-american. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:41, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

er.....sorry, did you have a point to make? Indisciplined (talk) 23:18, 31 May 2010 (UTC)


For an article about an artist, don't you think this page needs some examples of her work? Brutannica (talk) 00:10, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

That is a very good point. Unfortunately, images of the art works of living Australian artists (and indeed ones deceased in last 70 years, IIRC) are copyrighted. There is a limited exception to this, called freedom of panorama, but with one exception I have not encountered a work of Bancroft's that would meet the criteria for this. The only work that could satisft freedom of panorama is her design for the sport facility in Sydney. However, I haved not yet had an opportunity to travel to it to take a photograph, and was unable to locate a free image on the Commons, either here or at Flickr. The lack of images is the reason I added the external links at the bottom, so people could quickly click through to examples of her work. Finally, I could have inserted a fair use image, as I have done at Makinti Napanangka, but that would preclude the article's appearance on the main page. Not a very satisfactory situation I know. Regards, hamiltonstone (talk) 01:14, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Aboriginal, or Indigenous?[edit]

These two words are used in a range of ways in Australian literature. Indigenous, for example, generally is regarded as covering both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Some Indigenous Australians actually object to the term "Indigenous", and in the interview for "Panel 1: Who you callin' urban?" (currently reference note 1 in the Bancroft article), Bancroft has this interchange:

FEMALE SPEAKER: My name is Jo I have a question that is open to the whole panel about the terms ‘black and white’. I’m an academic so I am in the batch of people who are not looked too kindly on. I am struggling with these terms when I write because there is a lot of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who use the terms ‘black and white’. I can see a lot of pluses but I can also see a lot of negatives about it. One of the negatives I see is that it is adding to that idea of what is an authentic Aboriginal person when there are plenty of Aboriginal people who don’t look black. I’m a black Australian who is not an Indigenous Australian. There is a lot of mixing of boundaries. I am wondering what you all thought about those two terms.
BRONWYN BANCROFT: I will say something. I’m an artist; I am confronted with a piece of white paper every day. I’d make a choice whether I use blue, pink or white. I’m really concerned about all the terminology s--- basically because at the end of the day Aboriginal people are Aboriginal people. We are not Indigenous. Someone said to me the other day that he was a five generation non-Aboriginal person and said ‘I am indigenous to this country so you people should stop saying that. You’re Aboriginal. You don’t be indigenous because I’m indigenous. I am five generations white and I’m indigenous. All indigenous is - I am born here.’ So for me Aboriginal people, that is where it is at. We are just Aboriginal people - end of story.

For this reason, i agree with the recent edit by User:Bruceanthro to change the article lead to "Aboriginal". hamiltonstone (talk) 05:06, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Tagged for bias[edit]

Just because she wants to ignore her non-Aboriginal ancestry, that does not mean that by following her lead, the writers of this article are not breaching the neutrality principle. Wikipedia should describe things as they are, not as the subject of each article wishes to present them. I know that activists have obtained a legal definition that suits their purposes, but that ruling is simply a statement of opinion by a person who did not have regard for wikipedia's neutrality policy. The caveat in the note that being aboriginal has nothing to do with skin colour is itself a political opinion, and not a statement of fact. This article in its current state is an exercise in misrepresentation that collaborates with a person (the subject) who wishes to promote a political agenda. She may be "cool" because her agenda is left-wing, but wikipedia should treat all agendas the same. Luwilt (talk) 21:57, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

The above is complete nonsense, frankly. You should take your opinionated political agenda elsewhere. The definition of Aboriginal has legal status in Australia, is not a matter of "opinion". The matter is referenced here, and can be further confirmed by anyone who wishes to research it elsewhere with an open mind. It is widely accepted in the reliable sources, and this debate has been had here previously. Your tag is being removed: if you have a problem with that, take it to WP:ANI. hamiltonstone (talk) 03:05, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

Inline citation clutter[edit]

Is it me or is this article suffering from some major cite clutter? --Breno talk 07:25, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

If there are cases where the same reference is used to support consecutive sentences, then yes; otherwise no. I am pedantic about the linking in the Aboriginal art articles I've written, in part because often the construction of the facts has been hard to track down (and there are still issues in this article), and in part because there is every now and then an outbreak of tendentious editing or commentary (particularly around Aboriginality) that requires rock solid and precise backing up of facts. hamiltonstone (talk) 12:04, 26 September 2012 (UTC)