Chapter 5 analyses perceptions by light therapists of the suntan (pigmentation) as the external sign of stored solar energy in the body, of the body visualised as literally ‘photogenic’ (light-generating). It does so by focusing specifically on advertisements using colour to convey the glowing tans and radiant smiles of healthy mothers, thriving babies and virile men, who consume light in the battle against ‘sun-starvation.’ Both sunlight and artificial light were directed onto mothers’ malfunctioning breasts to restore lactation, onto ‘backwards’ children to correct normal brain functioning, and onto injured soldiers to disinfect and heal their fetid battle wounds. In the regeneration of these highly-valued subjects, physicians and politicians alike perceived light as an aid to national salvation. Yet in encouraging citizens to emulate the dark skins of ‘primitive’ races, they conveyed ambivalent attitudes towards the merits of suntanned skin. This chapter investigates suntan as simultaneously a visual marker of recharged health and a troubling act of racial transgression during a period of heightened eugenic fervour in Britain and Europe.
This book is the outcome of many opportunities and collaborations. It was substantially funded by an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (ARC APD) that commenced in 2010 and finished in 2015. My first thanks go to Professor Susan Broomhall and Associate Professor Jacqueline van Gent for involving me in their Discovery Project, ‘Gender, Power and Identity in the Early Modern Nassau Family’ (DP1092615). Funding was supplemented by Arts Faculty and SOPHIS (School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies) grants from Monash University, for which I am grateful.
I have been very fortunate to work with some wonderful archivists and curators, who have been extremely generous in sharing their extensive knowledge of their photograph collections, and who have mirrored my enthusiasm during what is always the most exciting part of any research project: the archives stage. I am indebted to my friend Liesbeth Ouwehand not only for her expertise on the KITLV Collections at the Universiteitsbibliotheek in Leiden, but also for her excellent eye for photographs with interesting stories, and for many years of hospitality and humour. Many thanks to Mieke Jansen at the Koninklijk Huisarchief in The Hague for sharing her deep knowledge of and affection for the extraordinary collections there. She has been very generous in showing me the collections at the KHA, and answering many follow-up emails over several years about individual items. I also thank René Kok and Harco Gijsbers at NIOD in Amsterdam for providing access to the photograph collections from the Dutch military actions in Indonesia (1945–50) that I discuss in the final chapter of this book. Thanks to these curators’ institutions, as well as the Nationaal Archief (The Hague), Spaarnestad, the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam) and the Royal Library (The Hague), for giving permission to reproduce the photographs selected in this book.
During the writing of Photographic subjects I have burned through a number of research groups made up of colleagues who will never want to read anything about Queen Wilhelmina ever again. For their forbearance, and also frequent good advice, I especially thank Bain Attwood, Al Thomson, Megan Cassidy-Welch, Seamus O'Hanlon, Kat Ellinghaus, Ernest Koh, Adam Clulow, Julie Kalman, Michael Hau, Carolyn James, Noah Shenker and David Garrioch. I wish to acknowledge that selected parts of Chapters 3, 4 and 5 were previously published in (respectively) Indonesia and the Malay World (2012), the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History (2012) and BMGN/Low Countries Historical Review (2015). And I would like to thank Emma Nicholls, Timo de Jong and Joanna Lee for research assistance, particularly Joanna for the final stages of this book's production. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers of the book proposal and final manuscript for their incisive suggestions.
It has been a delight to keep crossing intellectual paths on monarchy and imperialism with Matt Fitzpatrick, Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery, who have since 2013 been steering new work on monarchy and empire. It has been a privilege to be involved in Robert and Cindy's three conferences at Sydney University on this topic – ‘Crowns and Colonies’ (2014), ‘Royals on Tour’ (2015) and ‘Monarchies, Decolonisation and Royal Legacies in the Asia-Pacific’ (2017) – and to be included in two of the edited volumes they have produced, also published by Manchester University Press.
A big thanks to Ruth Morgan, Claire Spivakovsky and Charlotte Greenhalgh for their support as mentors and peers, friends, colleagues and feminists. Special thanks to my dear friend Amelia Liu, who gave me her house to write in when things got tricky with commuting and childcare and work. I am grateful for our very many ‘runches’ (run-plus-lunch), which were essential for talking over all kinds of work–life intersections; and I am so inspired by her own professional achievements and her personal calm, dignity and warmth. These are the women without whose support and example I may not have got this book out into the world.
To my cherished family, Tyrone and Henry, I say thank you for making me laugh, and for all your love and support. Thanks Tyrone for coming on the journeys with me that this book required.
I wish my dad was still here to read this book. I know my mother and my sister, Gaby and Tanja, do too. To them I say, leve de koninginnen.