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Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers?: The Dark Emu…
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Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers?: The Dark Emu Debate (edició 2021)

de Peter Sutton (author) & (Autor), Keryn Walshe (author) (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses
1311,251,339 (4.5)No n'hi ha cap
Títol:Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers?: The Dark Emu Debate
Autors:Peter Sutton (author) & (Autor)
Altres autors:Keryn Walshe (author) (Autor)
Informació:Melbourne University Publishing (2021), 264 pages
Col·leccions:First Nations Peoples resources
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

Detalls de l'obra

Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate de Peter Sutton (Author)

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I am out of my depth when it comes to reviewing Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe. When back in 2014 (as you can see in my review), I read Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? I was convinced by author Bruce Pascoe's use of historical sources to show that, before 1788, there was systematic agriculture and aquaculture; permanent dwellings; storage and preservation methods and the use of fire to manage the difficult Australian environment. On my LisaHillSchoolStuff blog I recommended the text as one that should be widely read and also taught in schools.

So it was chastening to read Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers, the Dark Emu Debate by Professor Peter Sutton FASSA and Dr Keryn Walshe. I only had to read the Introduction to realise that I was one of the many who read Dark Emu as a revelatory experience when in fact there were for many decades texts in which a 'simply nomadic' description of the Old People was rejected. There's more to reviewing books in this debate than just reading them.

The author profiles on the publisher's website are impressive:
Sutton is a social anthropologist and linguist who has, over more than 50 years, contributed to learning and recording Aboriginal languages, promoting Aboriginal art, mapping Aboriginal cultural landscapes, increasing understanding of contemporary Aboriginal societies and land tenure systems, and the successes of native title claimants.

Walshe is an archaeologist with more than 35 years of experience in recording, analysing and interpreting Australian Indigenous heritage sites and objects. She has lectured in archaeology, managed Indigenous heritage museum collections and undertaken site assessments for corporate and government agencies. Walshe continues to write for academic journals, advise heritage managers and give public presentations.
But impressive as these credentials are, it is the authors' cogent argument which makes their work a corrective to my naïve enthusiasm. I'm not qualified to judge whether what they say about Pascoe's selective use of sources is a problem, but I do know that evidence-based truth telling necessitates research across the available knowledge bases. I knew that Pascoe was not a trained historian but I assumed that his research was extensive and even-handed.

In contemporary Aboriginal studies, including history, archaeology and anthropology, academic expertise includes respecting the knowledge of The Old People, i.e. Aboriginal collaborators in the research who share facts and insights from their expertise. Here it is pertinent to note that one of the blurbers praising this book is Dr Kellie Pollard, a Wiradjuri archaeologist, lecturer and researcher at Charles Darwin University:
Sutton and Walshe show that Pascoe tried, and failed, to overturn over a century of anthropological and archaeological study, analysis and documentation, in addition to Aboriginal oral testimony, of the ways of life, governance, socioeconomic behaviour, material, technological and spiritual accomplishments and preferences of Aboriginal people in classical society and on the cusp of colonisation.
My own common sense and experience as a language learner tells me that Chapter 3 'The Language Question' is persuasive. All languages have vocabulary that match the cultural practices and needs of their users. But missing from the research into the 260 distinct languages of Australia in 1788 are words for 'hoed'; 'tilled'; 'ploughed'; 'sowed'; 'planted'; 'irrigated' or 'reaped'. If what Pascoe claims is true, then there would be multiple words for agricultural activities in Aboriginal languages. The only language that has a word for 'garden' or 'to sow, to plant' is Meryam Mir, a Torres Strait language. (It's not an Australian language, apparently; it's a Papuan language within Australia's borders.) These people have considerable gardening vocabulary, and mainlanders did adopt some of their technologies such as outrigger canoes and detachable-head harpoons, but they did not adopt horticulture. Sutton makes a convincing argument that this was a choice: obviously Aborigines had expert knowledge of the plants on which they depended but they did not need to farm them and chose not to.

To read the rest of my review please visit ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jul 26, 2021 |
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Sutton, PeterAutorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Walshe, KerynAutorautor principaltotes les edicionsconfirmat
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