Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine
In 1928 the Australian racial psychologist Stanley David Porteus went to northwest Western Australia and central Australia to conduct psychological and psychophysical studies of sample Aboriginal groups. Porteus was accompanied by Paul Withington, a Honolulu surgeon and explorer, and two cinematographers. Withington, presenting the façade of a serious investigator searching for evidence of Neanderthal Man, told A.O. Neville, chief protector of Aborigines in Western Australia, that he was also making a film about Aboriginal life for educational purposes. After leaving Australia, Neville became increasingly concerned about this film. His queries to Porteus were met with uncertainty, and he received only silence from Withington. When the film was finally released, its representation of Aboriginal life was grossly distorted. This had far-reaching consequences for future researchers in Western Australia.