Abstracts

For a quick overview of the Doctor Who and Race book see Contents. For more detail about each essay, read on.

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Part 1 The Doctor, his companions and race
Fire Fly, Iona Yeager, Linnea Dodson, Amit Gupta, Quiana Howard & Robert Smith?, Mike Hernandez

Part 2 Diversity and representation in casting and characterization
Emily Asher-Perrin, Rosanne Welch, Stephanie Guerdan, George Ivanoff, Kate Orman

Part 3 Colonialism, imperialism, slavery and the diaspora
Leslie McMurtry, Erica Foss, John Vohlidka, Vanessa de Kauwe

Part 4 Xenophobia, nationalism and national identities
Alec Charles, Richard Scully, Marcus K Harmes, Catriona Mills

Part 5 Race and science
Kristine Larsen, Rachel Morgain, Lindy A Orthia

Part 1  The Doctor, his companions and race

The white Doctor
FIRE FLY
This essay draws on the discipline of whiteness studies to examine the racial milieu of Doctor Who, particularly the central character, the Doctor, as he has been characterised in the program’s new series, specifically his Tenth incarnation. I argue that, although the program makes gestures of inclusion, it is informed by ideologies that continue to subjugate people of colour.

Too brown for a fair praise: The depiction of racial prejudice as cultural heritage in Doctor Who
IONA YEAGER
This essay discusses the historical journeys of Doctor Who character Martha Jones to 1599 in The Shakespeare Code and to 1913 in Human Nature. It investigates how creative and production teams made up of non-People-of-Colour, often in the pursuit of politically correct portrayals, deny or dismiss the experience of People of Colour in historical drama.

Conscious colour-blindness, unconscious racism in Doctor Who companions
LINNEA DODSON
The BBC says it uses colour-blind casting in the new Doctor Who. It’s more accurate to say that the BBC is blind to how poorly it consistently treats companions of colour. In this essay, I discuss how disappointed I am that the Doctor claims to love all of humanity but consistently treats certain companions as second-class, and how the show could truly display love for all humanity.

Doctor Who, cricket and race: The Peter Davison years
AMIT GUPTA
The Fifth incarnation of the Doctor, played by Peter Davison in the early 1980s, wore a Victorian cricketing costume for the duration of his tenure. This essay discusses the racial implications of the costume, given the role of cricket in the British Empire and the history of racism in international cricket.

Humanity as a white metaphor
QUIANA HOWARD AND ROBERT SMITH?
The Doctor is an alien outsider to the morally flawed but ultimately worthwhile hegemony that is humanity. The Doctor’s role as a safe outsider whose nature is played for laughs, presenting as both comic relief and wise mentor, draws parallels with Uncle Remus and Uncle Tom stereotypes: forming a bond with those who would otherwise seek to destroy him and his kind. We show that, by co-opting the outsider figure to become its moral compass, humanity/whiteness has a robust method of reinforcing itself. Although the concept of Doctor Who is decades old, we see that its structure has startling parallels today with Barack Obama and the white American hegemony.

“You can’t just change what I look like without consulting me!”: The shifting racial identity of the Doctor
MIKE HERNANDEZ
This essay exposes the Doctor’s underlying racial identity crisis by drawing on two aspects of his character: his evolving relationship with his people and the avoidance of diverse casting in his role. Drawing on the work of Stuart Hall, Frantz Fanon, and others, the essay reads the Doctor as a metaphor, a reflection and site of crisis for British national identity in the face of diaspora and an ever-increasing need for inclusivity. As the only one left to decide what it means to be a Time Lord, the Doctor takes responsibility for representing his culture while also demonstrating how flexible that identity can be. And, as a cultural phenomenon, Doctor Who is emblematic of British culture both domestically and internationally. With this in mind, it seems that the character and casting of the Doctor could possibly embody and demonstrate the flexibility – the inclusive potential – of British national identity.

Part 2  Diversity and representation in casting and characterization

No room for old-fashioned cats: Davies era Who and interracial romance
EMILY ASHER-PERRIN
This essay looks at the interracial romances in Doctor Who since the 2005 revival, specifically how they have been tackled in two different eras, with Russell T Davies as show runner and then Steven Moffat. While Davies era Who seemed intent in focusing on diversity in romantic relationships, there has been a significant lack of this since Moffat took over as show runner.

When white boys write black: Race and class in the Davies and Moffat eras
ROSANNE WELCH
This essay discusses the different ways former Doctor Who show runner Russell T Davies and his successor, Steven Moffat, handle race in writing the show. It concludes that while Davies’ characters of colour (Mickey, Martha and Rosita) are all three-dimensional, sexualized human beings, Moffat’s (Liz Ten, Mels and Rita) tended toward more one-dimensional, Talented Tenth types.

Baby steps: A modest solution to Asian under-representation in Doctor Who
STEPHANIE GUERDAN
This essay points out the lack of previous Asian representation in both the casting choices and storylines of Doctor Who. It goes on to suggest some small steps that could be taken to rectify this lack while also keeping in mind some of the BBC’s previous racial faux pas.

That was then, this is now: How my perceptions have changed
GEORGE IVANOFF
This essay explores the changing perceptions of one Doctor Who fan with regards to two classic stories, The Mutants and The Talons of Weng-Chiang. The approach to race in these two stories is quite different, and while I clearly perceive the difference as an adult, I made no such distinction when watching the program as a child. The period in which the latter story was made is often used as a justification for its racist casting, and yet colour-blind casting is seen in the earlier example. The essay concludes that the approach of each story is very much determined by its creative hierarchy, and can result in an approach that rises above the norm of the period of production.

“One of us is yellow”: Doctor Fu Manchu and The Talons of Weng-Chiang
KATE ORMAN
Fan favourite The Talons of Weng-Chiang is a pastiche of the Fu Manchu movies of the 1960s, reproducing many ‘Yellow Peril’ stereotypes of the deceitful, criminal, cruel and weird Chinese. Fan criticism of the story’s racism tends to focus solely on the use of ‘yellowface’. This essay places the story in the context of British sinophobia, both of the time of Fu Manchu’s creation in the early twentieth century, and in the 1970s when the story was first broadcast, including the long-standing opposition to both yellowface and Yellow Peril stereotypes by Chinese Britons.

Part 3 Colonialism, imperialism, slavery and the diaspora

Inventing America: The Aztecs in context
LESLIE McMURTRY
It is well-known that The Aztecs (1964) is an important story in Doctor Who history for its many firsts as well as its historically accurate depiction of pre-Columbian Aztec culture. However, John Lucarotti’s script operates upon the ‘good/bad Indian’ dichotomies that were first deployed in Christopher Columbus’ writings. This essay charts the progress of the ‘good/bad Indian’ within Columbus, Cortés and de Léry and relates these usages back to their depictions in The Aztecs. It underlines the ways that the understanding of the Aztecs expressed by the Doctor’s history teacher companion, Barbara, comes from biased sources.

The Ood as a slave race: Colonial continuity in the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire
ERICA FOSS
This essay explores the connections between colonialism and slavery in the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries and the practices of the fictitious Human Empire of the forty-second century as depicted in Doctor Who. Although the adventures of the Doctor can be read in many ways, for the purposes of this argument, I utilize the idea that the future the Doctor shows to his companions is the likely trajectory from the world in the companions’ (and viewers’) present. As such, I draw out continuities in human history, with the human future of the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire. Using a discursive framework that explores the practices of Othering in both periods, I will argue that the example of alien race the Ood provides a bleak moral outlook for humanity. The age-old prejudices that allowed race-based slavery for centuries have not gone away in the Whoniverse future. They have simply been displaced outward onto a different group, the Ood. In this way, the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire serves as a warning to those in the present.

Doctor Who and the critique of western imperialism
JOHN VOHLIDKA
In the 1970s, Britain was coming to grips with its now largely defunct empire, creating a time of both political and social division, and resulting in a society unsure of its place in the world. This turbulence was reflected in the British science fiction series Doctor Who. This essay explores how four particular stories from the series – Colony in Space, The Mutants, The Face of Evil and The Power of Kroll – fit into the ‘imperialist model’ regarding the portrayal of different native groups. This portrayal was not consistent, which shows how the series reflected the mixed emotions of the British populace towards their loss of empire and the influx of new immigrants during the 1970s.

Through coloured eyes: An alternative viewing of postcolonial transition
VANESSA DE KAUWE
In the past, prominent academic critiques of Doctor Who serials depicting colonialism have rightly criticized such serials as having racially hostile undertones and pro-colonialist ideologies. In this essay I argue that such critiques have not gone far enough in highlighting connections between colonial injustices and ongoing postcolonial difficulties and trauma. I use the 1966 serial The Ark to demonstrate that what at first appears to be racist stereotyping can, on closer inspection, be recognized as the postcolonial debris of colonial violence. In making this argument I suggest that it can require the ‘coloured eyes’ of a critic who has experienced postcolonial transition to see the complexity and interconnections of these historical truths. Accordingly, I utilize the ‘coloured eyes’ of Fanon, Nayar and Bhabha, together with my own, to construct my argument.

Part 4 Xenophobia, nationalism and national identities

The allegory of allegory: Race, racism and the summer of 2011
ALEC CHARLES
This essay explores aspects of the 2011 seasons of Doctor Who and it spin-off Torchwood in the context of a series of urban riots which spread across the United Kingdom in summer 2011. It argues that just as those two science fiction series examined issues of perceptions of racial difference in symbolic terms, so the right-wing media reaction to those riots also began to redetermine ethnicity in terms of the possession of social, cultural and symbolic capital. It suggests that both the progressive endeavours of these science fiction programmes and the reactionary efforts of certain news commentators may eventually lead us towards a similar conclusion: that racial difference is not (and never has been) anything more than an illusory construct, and that therefore what those who promote discrimination on the grounds of such difference fear most is the realization that it does not in fact exist.

Doctor Who and the racial state: Fighting National Socialism across time and space
RICHARD SCULLY
This essay deals with a commonly-drawn, but little-understood, parallel in the Whoniverse: the notion that the Daleks are – and always have been – stand-ins for the Nazis. Examining the representation of the Daleks across the Classic (1963-89) and revived series (2005-the present), the essay seeks to clarify to what extent this is true, as well as to observe the extent to which the series has sought to deal with Nazism in any meaningful, critical sense (rather than employing it as a handy touchstone for the ultimate ‘evil’). Ultimately, the limitations inherent in Doctor Who, as primarily a work of entertaining television science-fiction – and not purely a work of historical inquiry – as well as its need to cater to audience preconceptions in order to advance a narrative, have played a far greater role in determining the way Nazism has been presented in the programme than any engagement with more detailed historical understandings.

Religion, racism and the Church of England in Doctor Who
MARCUS K HARMES
The idea that Doctor Who is quintessentially English is often uncritically repeated in both scholarly and popular assessments of the programme, but this essay calls for a more complex understanding of ‘Englishness’ as a racial identity. It offers analysis of three serials which engage with the Church of England – The Dæmons (1971), Ghost Light (1989) and The Curse of Fenric (1989) – arguing that they significantly complicate ideas of ‘Englishness’, as being a distinctive racial identity that the programme encapsulates, a point brought to a climax in Ghost Light, which juxtaposes twentieth century racial violence with nineteenth century theological controversies. These stories subvert emblems of English national identity as embodied by the Church; examined together, they allow for analysis of how English national identity, and the identity of the English people as a distinctive race, is challenged in Doctor Who’s narratives.

The Doctor is in (the Antipodes): Doctor Who short fiction and Australian national identity
CATRIONA MILLS
British science-fiction family television program Doctor Who has always had a strong fan-base in Australia. This essay explores the ways in which certain of those Australian fans use the shorter forms of ancillary Doctor Who fiction to question the construction and promulgation of Australian national identity. By dropping the Doctor into significant crisis points in Australian history – from Gallipoli to the Port Arthur massacre – these authors literalize and question the process of constructing national identity, drawing to the surface the troubled and often negated role that race plays in ‘Australianness’.

Part 5  Race and science

“They hate each other’s chromosomes”: Eugenics and the shifting racial identity of the Daleks
KRISTINE LARSEN
From the Daleks’ 1960s stories through to their most recent incarnations, Doctor Who’s most famous monsters have engaged in eugenics experimentation time and again, attempting to control the biology of their species and achieve genetic supremacy. This essay identifies parallels between their experiments and the ideologies behind them, and the experiments and ideologies of real life eugenics movements, often championed in the pursuit of ‘racial purity’. The comparison exposes the horrors perpetrated in the name of eugenics as well as its inevitable failure, and the uncomfortable truths about humanity’s racist history that the Daleks’ scientific pursuits symbolize.

Mapping the boundaries of race in The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood
RACHEL MORGAIN
Originally screening in 1970, serials featuring the people called “Silurians” have taken up issues of xenophobia and militarism among present-day and future humans. As a species awakened under Earth’s surface, the trajectory of human-Silurian encounters in these stories raises moral, social and political questions regarding the nature of contemporary (British) society and its readiness (or unreadiness) to relate with, make peace with and share land with ‘outsiders’. This essay examines how these issues are taken up in the 2010 serial The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. Looking beyond the overt narrative, it interrogates how scientific and social-scientific knowledge subtly frames the terms of this encounter, structuring events in ways that perpetuate long-standing racial inequalities in our lived world and largely occlude the more radical possibilities inherent in this situation. Nonetheless, this radical potential lies underground in this serial, challenging us to reconsider how our Earth is shared today.

Savages, science, stagism and the naturalized ascendancy of the Not-We in Doctor Who
LINDY A ORTHIA
Doctor Who reiterates the mythos of scientific enlightenment: the idea that seventeenth century Europe was the first time humans embraced truth and morality and became civilized. It often couples this mythos to stagism, the belief that all human (and alien) cultures lie on a developmental continuum from ‘primitive’ to ‘advanced’, in which ‘advanced’, ‘civilized’ cultures are those that resemble the West in values, science and technology, and the rest are ‘savage’ or ‘barbaric’. In this essay I discuss elements of Doctor Who that promote this stagist conception of societal evolution: injunctions against using time travel to disrupt the ‘natural progress’ of human societies; alien cultures that must be helped to ‘advance’; and human characters from the future who have ‘devolved’ from a technologically ‘advanced’ state into ‘primitivism’. I argue that the stagist ideology infusing these stories naturalizes the global ascendancy of the West as an inevitability borne of European superiority.