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Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers?: The Dark Emu Debate

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An authoritative study of pre-colonial Australia that dismantles and reframes popular narratives of First Nations land management and food production Australians' understanding of Aboriginal society prior to the British invasion from 1788 has been transformed since the publication of Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu in 2014. It argued that classical Aboriginal society was more sophi An authoritative study of pre-colonial Australia that dismantles and reframes popular narratives of First Nations land management and food production Australians' understanding of Aboriginal society prior to the British invasion from 1788 has been transformed since the publication of Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu in 2014. It argued that classical Aboriginal society was more sophisticated than Australians had been led to believe because it resembled more closely the farming communities of Europe. In Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe ask why Australians have been so receptive to the notion that farming represents an advance from hunting and gathering. Drawing on the knowledge of Aboriginal elders, previously not included within this discussion, and decades of anthropological scholarship, Sutton and Walshe provide extensive evidence to support their argument that classical Aboriginal society was a hunter-gatherer society and as sophisticated as the traditional European farming methods. Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? asks Australians to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal society and culture.


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An authoritative study of pre-colonial Australia that dismantles and reframes popular narratives of First Nations land management and food production Australians' understanding of Aboriginal society prior to the British invasion from 1788 has been transformed since the publication of Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu in 2014. It argued that classical Aboriginal society was more sophi An authoritative study of pre-colonial Australia that dismantles and reframes popular narratives of First Nations land management and food production Australians' understanding of Aboriginal society prior to the British invasion from 1788 has been transformed since the publication of Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu in 2014. It argued that classical Aboriginal society was more sophisticated than Australians had been led to believe because it resembled more closely the farming communities of Europe. In Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe ask why Australians have been so receptive to the notion that farming represents an advance from hunting and gathering. Drawing on the knowledge of Aboriginal elders, previously not included within this discussion, and decades of anthropological scholarship, Sutton and Walshe provide extensive evidence to support their argument that classical Aboriginal society was a hunter-gatherer society and as sophisticated as the traditional European farming methods. Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? asks Australians to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal society and culture.

30 review for Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers?: The Dark Emu Debate

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tim O'Neill

    When I finished Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu in 2017 I was initially impressed. Having read Bill Gammage's The Biggest Estate on Earth four years earlier, I was already aware that the traditional view of Australia's First Nations peoples as simple nomadic hunter-gatherers was inaccurate and that they had their own very sophisticated and highly effective ways of tending the landscape and making hunting and food gathering relatively easy. Pascoe's book reinforced these ideas. There were, however, some When I finished Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu in 2017 I was initially impressed. Having read Bill Gammage's The Biggest Estate on Earth four years earlier, I was already aware that the traditional view of Australia's First Nations peoples as simple nomadic hunter-gatherers was inaccurate and that they had their own very sophisticated and highly effective ways of tending the landscape and making hunting and food gathering relatively easy. Pascoe's book reinforced these ideas. There were, however, some claims in Pascoe's work which seemed strange and largely at odds with other evidence. He seemed to heavily emphasise any evidence that Aboriginal people were sedentary and not semi-nomadic, with a lot of attention on substantial permanent dwellings. He also emphasises any evidence of seed and native grain gathering as evidence of a form of cultivation, based largely on some quotes from white explorers and colonists. His extensive use of these sources and, strangely, little use of any information from aboriginal people themselves also seemed odd. As the book got more critical attention, it appeared my misgivings were somewhat warranted. Examples of Pascoe quoting selectively from his sources, misrepresenting what they said and shaping his quotes by a creative use of paraphrasing in between them emerged. Critics also noted that he has a tendency to use exceptions as though they are representative and uses turns of phrase that suit his thesis. I was wary of several of these critiques, given that by this stage Pascoe's bestseller had become the centre of a battle in the left/right culture wars, with notoriously racist right wing culture warriors like columnist Andrew Bolt leading the charge against Pascoe and left wing ideologues closing ranks in defence of him. But it was clear that many historians, archaeologists and anthropologists had genuine problems with Pascoe's book and the way it overstates its case. Most were reluctant to enter the fray, given the way the book has been politicised. This makes Sutton and Walshe's sober, careful and meticulous book a useful contribution. It serves as a sharp corrective to many of Pascoe's overstatements and distortions, while giving no comfort to the racists. They make it clear that the general tenor of the idea behind both Pascoe and Gammage's books is correct - the First Nations "Old People" were not "mere" nomadic hunter gatherers, scraping a living from what they could stumble across. Sutton and Walshe prefer the term "hunter gatherers plus" to describe the intricate way these peoples tended and utilised the plants and animals of their country, through a detailed understanding of it and a remarkable ability to shape it and use it sustainably. If Bolt and the right wing ranters hoped this book would confirm their racist denigration of Australian Aboriginal culture as primitive and wretched, they will be disappointed. But Sutton in particular is not stinting in his criticisms of Pascoe's manipulation of his sources. Drawing on his own decades of living with and working with First Nations elders who had been raised in the old ways, this book shows that Pascoe's revisionist picture of sedentary, village-dwelling, cultivating, grain and vegetable growers is largely a fantasy; cobbled together from selective evidence and misrepresentation. Sutton and Walshe sharply criticise Pascoe for buying into outdated thinking by representing sophisticated hunter gatherer systems as primitive and presenting his village-dwelling cultivators as more "advanced". This is, as Sutton and Walshe argue, getting the whole picture wrong. The Old People were neither "mere" hunter gatherers nor Pascoe's fantasy people - they were something else and it was not something primitive or unsophisticated. The reaction to Sutton and Walshe's book has been predictable if rather depressing. The right wing ideologues have hailed it as vindication of their vendetta against Pascoe. The left wing defenders have rejected it as white academics maintaining a conservative status quo against a radical thesis presented by a "blackfella" (despite Pascoe's claims to aboriginal ancestry being, at best, highly dubious). Few of the commentators or shriekers on Twitter seem to have read the book. Indeed, most of the shrieking and condemnation on Twitter came the day its publication had been announced and the book had not yet even been released. Since its release Sutton and Walshe's book has been generally well-received. Attempts at criticism of it by Pascoe's defenders have been muted and rather weak. Bill Gammage wrote a short piece that concentrates largely on things Pascoe said in support of Gammage's book, though Sutton and Walshe only mention Gammage a few times and not in any genuinely critical way. A strange article in The Conversation by University of Technology Sydney's Professor Heidi Norman ("How the Dark Emu debate limits representation of Aboriginal people in Australia", July 8, 2021) claims that Pascoe's book is "a persuasive account of Aboriginal people and the way they lived" and characterises Sutton and Walshe's critique as "churlish" and "pre-occupied with the historically dominant position of anthropologists in their claim to know Aboriginal people". But Norman doesn't manage to give much reason to question that "dominant position" and doesn't address the extensive evidence that Sutton provides that it, unlike Pascoe's thesis, is based on solid evidence and a detailed knowledge of living Aboriginal lore. She also has to admit they provide "numerous examples" of Pascoe misusing his sources, but insists, without substantiation, that while "some are significant omissions, others do not change the meaning Pascoe conveys." Anyone reading both books would have to seriously question this blithe assessment. Norman ends with a rather flaccid defence that Pascoe's book makes her undergraduates rethink their ideas about traditional Australian Aboriginal life and so is somehow a good thing as a result. Many would find this a strange argument if, as seems clear, Pascoe's book is not accurate. Her complaint that Sutton and Walshe "strip the debate of any contemporary meaning" and her nonsensical assertion that "Pascoe’s work is focused on the history of the present" are similarly odd. Her argument, such as it is, seems to be that she and her students like Pascoe's version and so Sutton and Walshe are spoilsports for ruining it for them. This is simply childish. It's easy to see why Pascoe's pseudo historical fantasy has appealed to many people and struck a chord with many in a nation only beginning to come to grips with the sorry history of Australia's treatment of its First Nations and the often murderous destruction of their cultures. It's also typical of discourse about anything to do with Australian Aboriginal culture that the right wing culture warriors have chosen to attack Pascoe's work. If we are to truly understand our First Nations peoples and the history of white invasion and colonialism, we have to understand what was (largely) destroyed. Political and social reconciliation has to be based on genuine knowledge, not fantasies or distortions. Far from damaging this process, Sutton and Walshe's book aids it by tempering a lot of the well-meaning but misplaced enthusiasm for Pascoe's amateur effort. Bad history is bad history, and should be shown to be so, regardless of how inconvenient this may be for some. It's a pity their book is rather dry and academic in tone, because that means its unlikely to get anything like the readership of Pascoe's accessible and entertaining if rather flawed work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    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 LisaHillScho 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 https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/07/26/c...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘We contend that Pascoe is broadly wrong, both about what Australians have been told of pre-conquest Aboriginal society and about the nature of that society itself.’ I read ‘Dark Emu’ five years ago and was impressed by what Bruce Pascoe had to say. And now I find myself revisiting those impressions, questioning some (not all) of Bruce Pascoe’s conclusions and my own reactions to them. Why, for example, was I impressed by the idea that Aboriginal society was more sophisticated because land manage ‘We contend that Pascoe is broadly wrong, both about what Australians have been told of pre-conquest Aboriginal society and about the nature of that society itself.’ I read ‘Dark Emu’ five years ago and was impressed by what Bruce Pascoe had to say. And now I find myself revisiting those impressions, questioning some (not all) of Bruce Pascoe’s conclusions and my own reactions to them. Why, for example, was I impressed by the idea that Aboriginal society was more sophisticated because land management and food production was more like European farming practices? Why would I so readily accept that farming is more sophisticated than the hunter-gatherer lifestyle? Yes, I was taught this over half a century ago and I guess I have not seen cause to question it. This book has me thinking about why. It also has me thinking more broadly about Aboriginal society and culture, and about the assumptions and values used in assessing sophistication. I found reading this book simultaneously informative and uncomfortable. Informative because I was provided with new information, uncomfortable because it forced me to reconsider why I found ‘Dark Emu’ so comforting. I’d recommend reading both. ‘People keep telling us, even those aware of Dark Emu’s many flaws, that at least it has got people thinking about an important subject.’ Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I read Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe, last year. I was impressed by the arguments Pascoe put forward in support of his premise that Aboriginal groups in various parts of Australia had practised agriculture and aquaculture and lived a more sedentary life than many had previously believed. Now this new book, by anthropologists Sutton and Walshe, has made me think again. The main argument put forward in this new book is that the value that Pascoe placed on agriculture and settlement is a European one. W I read Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe, last year. I was impressed by the arguments Pascoe put forward in support of his premise that Aboriginal groups in various parts of Australia had practised agriculture and aquaculture and lived a more sedentary life than many had previously believed. Now this new book, by anthropologists Sutton and Walshe, has made me think again. The main argument put forward in this new book is that the value that Pascoe placed on agriculture and settlement is a European one. Why, the authors ask, should we value a sedentary life more highly than a sophisticated hunter-gatherer society, grounded in a spiritual connection to the land? This book also condemns Pascoe for generalising from specific regional examples and for quoting selectively from the journals of white explorers. The authors also criticise Pascoe for not considering the testimony of the Indigenous people themselves and for not examining the extent to which Aboriginal languages include (or more specifically do not include) words for concepts like gardening. They suggest that much of what he has written and popularised was already well known among educated Australians. Unfortunately I do not think this was the case, certainly not in my generation (I am in my late 70s). Pascoe’s book opened many eyes and made us give greater respect to Aboriginal life before European colonisation. That can only be a good thing. However, this book is a useful corrective to areas where Pascoe overstated his case or failed to consider other enduring aspects of Aboriginal culture. Sadly, the politicisation of the debate over Aboriginal rights and history may lead to this volume being misused rather than appreciated for its subtle arguments.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Felix

    On the whole a clear, sensible, and mostly respectful response to the Dark Emu phenomenon, which acknowledges the strengths of Pascoe's work even in the process of exposing his misreadings and dragging his flights of speculation back down to earth. As an overview of archaeological and anthropological literatures on a range of subjects, it's quite extensive, though very possibly subject to selective tendencies of its own - impossible to verify from my (largely) lay position, but suggested here an On the whole a clear, sensible, and mostly respectful response to the Dark Emu phenomenon, which acknowledges the strengths of Pascoe's work even in the process of exposing his misreadings and dragging his flights of speculation back down to earth. As an overview of archaeological and anthropological literatures on a range of subjects, it's quite extensive, though very possibly subject to selective tendencies of its own - impossible to verify from my (largely) lay position, but suggested here and there by Sutton's vehemence at certain of Pascoe's claims. Walshe's chapters in particular do a great job of reconstructing the shifting narratives and dialogues of disciplinary scholarship for a non-specialist readership, though Sutton achieves this too in most instances. There's a sense sometimes that Pascoe and Sutton are talking past each other with regard to common non-Indigenous perspectives on Indigenous societies - the former is right about public opinion often being regressive, but wrongly conflates this at times with the general state of academic knowledge, while the latter is right about available academic knowledge being mostly progressive, but wrongly assumes at times that availability of knowledge translates to its being widespread. The jingoistic Andrew Bolt and 'Dark Emu Exposed' crowds will thankfully find little to no purchase here for their own gripes with Pascoe. The book repeatedly stresses the astonishing cultural, social, spiritual and economic complexity, indisputable historical primacy, and unrivalled ecological viability of Indigenous Australian societies, and contrasts these with the brutal and ecologically catastrophic practices of white settler-colonialism, which are acknowledged in no uncertain terms in the book's first and last pages. What strikes me as missing from the book (though probably not from the perspective of Sutton & Walshe's project, being a review of sources cited in, or glaringly omitted from, Dark Emu) is any engagement with Pascoe's tentative but rousing suggestions for re-ecologisation of food production in Australia, which have informed his subsequent experiments in native grain cultivation, and which also include such ecological urgencies as transitioning the beef industry to the much less impactful kangaroo meat. Dark Emu's shortcomings notwithstanding, I still hope to see these suggestions vindicated in practice.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    When I read Bruce Pascoe's 'Dark Emu', I, like thousands of others, was blown away by his examples of indigenous agriculture, thinking that we had been taught wrongly all along. This book sets out to discredit 'Dark Emu', criticising Pascoe of poor research, too much reliance on European sources and being selective in his use of quotations. It is not an easy read and the authors are clearly angry with Pascoe's attempt to portray indigenous culture as settled and agricultural where they would pref When I read Bruce Pascoe's 'Dark Emu', I, like thousands of others, was blown away by his examples of indigenous agriculture, thinking that we had been taught wrongly all along. This book sets out to discredit 'Dark Emu', criticising Pascoe of poor research, too much reliance on European sources and being selective in his use of quotations. It is not an easy read and the authors are clearly angry with Pascoe's attempt to portray indigenous culture as settled and agricultural where they would prefer to call it 'hunter-gatherer plus'. This labelling as either has been criticised by other writers. However it is labelled, Australian indigenous culture was a complex and sophisticated interaction with the land, and definitely not the 'hapless wandering' assumed by 'terra nullius'. Pascoe has welcomed the debate and this book is certainly worth reading, if only to get a further understanding of Australian indigenous culture.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Reg Murray

    This is an excellent book written by two highly qualified people, as contrasted to Pascoe's "Dark Emu" which was written by a man whose only academic qualification is a minor one in teaching. Sutton and Walshe absolutely destroy "Dark Emu" at every level. Pascoe has perpetrated a fraud on the Australian people and done much damage to the Aboriginal cause. This is an excellent book written by two highly qualified people, as contrasted to Pascoe's "Dark Emu" which was written by a man whose only academic qualification is a minor one in teaching. Sutton and Walshe absolutely destroy "Dark Emu" at every level. Pascoe has perpetrated a fraud on the Australian people and done much damage to the Aboriginal cause.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jan Bos

    Respectful rebuttal of the claims that Aboriginal people engaged in early forms of agriculture.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alphared Chadstick

    This is a fantastic read, especially great to read after reading dark emu (which is how I suggest you go about reading both books - one after the other). Sutton shows the inconsistencies with some of the content in dark emu and separates fact from fiction. Both are good books, but if you want a truthfully painted picture, read this book. [8/12]

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    probably nearer 3 and half stars. It was very readable and well referenced and definitely pushing an agenda!. Walshe's chapters were a bit too detailed to be very readable. I didn't like the way the author minimised yam cultivation, with the term "yam-using" . I thought they unfairly emphasised that much of the info about Aboriginal ecological land management was already available - yes it was to academics, but knowledge of Aboriginal culture is sketchy in the public sphere. I thought it was unf probably nearer 3 and half stars. It was very readable and well referenced and definitely pushing an agenda!. Walshe's chapters were a bit too detailed to be very readable. I didn't like the way the author minimised yam cultivation, with the term "yam-using" . I thought they unfairly emphasised that much of the info about Aboriginal ecological land management was already available - yes it was to academics, but knowledge of Aboriginal culture is sketchy in the public sphere. I thought it was unfair to dismiss Pascoe's use of Brewarrinna and Lake Condah as atypical examples, I think we should thoroughly celebrate Brewarrina and Lake Condah as iconic world heritage sites. Yes, it is wrong to extrapolate what was happening in one part of Australia to the whle of Australia, but I think Sutton himself does that too, as most of his work has been in Northern parts. In my opinion , the best book on this subject is Sylvia Hallam's 1975 book Fire and Hearth, specific to WA, and she doesn't try to extrapolate!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sally O'wheel

    This excellent book makes me feel embarrassed about how enthusiastic I was about Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu. That is nothing to the embarrassment Bruce Pascoe must be experiencing! I found this book quite accessible, not like some academic texts, and was amazed that we have all been so taken in by Pascoe's extreme proposition. Sutton gives us the up to date research, and lots of 20th century research that was accessible to Pascoe, which paints classical Aboriginal life, pre 1788, as being complex a This excellent book makes me feel embarrassed about how enthusiastic I was about Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu. That is nothing to the embarrassment Bruce Pascoe must be experiencing! I found this book quite accessible, not like some academic texts, and was amazed that we have all been so taken in by Pascoe's extreme proposition. Sutton gives us the up to date research, and lots of 20th century research that was accessible to Pascoe, which paints classical Aboriginal life, pre 1788, as being complex and certainly not anything like farming. They did not live in villages as we might use the term. It is disturbing that previous archaeological and anthropological research has been discounted, that Aborigines were not consulted. It is disturbing that Young Dark Emu has continued these misguided ideas and that this material is being taught in schools.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Hodson

    I had read Dark Emu a few years ago and admit I was enthralled by its sweeping view of Aboriginal agricultural achievement and the level of disruption and disposession explored. I think another part of its genius was that hope of looking for crops and plants that could be possibly used as domesticated crops more suited to our Australian environment. Having read this book now, it is clear that Dark Emu is completely out of its depth and yes, denies the non-agricultural achievements and ecosystem m I had read Dark Emu a few years ago and admit I was enthralled by its sweeping view of Aboriginal agricultural achievement and the level of disruption and disposession explored. I think another part of its genius was that hope of looking for crops and plants that could be possibly used as domesticated crops more suited to our Australian environment. Having read this book now, it is clear that Dark Emu is completely out of its depth and yes, denies the non-agricultural achievements and ecosystem management of Aboriginal cultures all over Australia and denies the widespread rejection of agriculture because of the strength of the culture- not because of any deficit to attain agriculture. This book is fantastic and it is also presented with a bit of a tone of ‘this has been here for you all to see for ages.’ It is true, and once again I stand condemned! Learning from accurate sources and living cultures has got to be the way forward and I hope we as a country can achieve constitutional recognition and more and more understanding, material improvements and improved ability to maintain culture in the future.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Excellent read Very informative and expert correction of the numerous faults in Dark Emu. Should be read by anyone who has previously read Dark Emu.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    A great book that clearly shows the complete fabrication of Dark Emu, and its false perspective. It is a brief book, and I would urge people wanting to know more to read his reference sources. It shows the amazing spiritual connection to the land in a brief read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    Farmers or Hunter-Gathers?: The Dark Emu Debate by Peter Sutton (and Keryn Walshe), is an interesting read filled with a significant amount of well referenced research, as well as personal insights and personal accounts by the author. Its delivery is largely aimed at calling out Bruce Pascoe on his research and his delivery of that research in the widely acclaimed book, Dark Emu. While this book is quite readable and Suttons insights quite fascinating, the tone and the nit-picky-ness, as well as Farmers or Hunter-Gathers?: The Dark Emu Debate by Peter Sutton (and Keryn Walshe), is an interesting read filled with a significant amount of well referenced research, as well as personal insights and personal accounts by the author. Its delivery is largely aimed at calling out Bruce Pascoe on his research and his delivery of that research in the widely acclaimed book, Dark Emu. While this book is quite readable and Suttons insights quite fascinating, the tone and the nit-picky-ness, as well as the accusations and attacks on Pascoe, are at times quite unsavoury. Sutton is obviously very knowledgable about Aboriginal history, culture and customs, however he is also clearly an academic with his nose out of joint because (possibly) his life's work is being questioned by a book now widely read around the nation. While I do understand there is questionable information in Dark Emu, of which Sutton makes many good counter points to, I do also feel Sutton's knowledge and insights would have been better portrayed in a stand alone book without all the bitterness towards Pascoe. However, I'm guessing that such a book would not have received the same media attention nor sales as one disputing Dark Emu. 3.5/5 yams

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Clinically punctures the overblown claims of Dark Emu. Well written, well researched and supported, with the huge benefit of providing a rich and intellectually reliable understanding of pre-conquest aboriginal life. A more accurate and more engaging book than Dark Emu. I know some think it's too harsh in the way it calls out the failings of Dark Emu, but I think the tone is well and truly warranted. Clinically punctures the overblown claims of Dark Emu. Well written, well researched and supported, with the huge benefit of providing a rich and intellectually reliable understanding of pre-conquest aboriginal life. A more accurate and more engaging book than Dark Emu. I know some think it's too harsh in the way it calls out the failings of Dark Emu, but I think the tone is well and truly warranted.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul Challis-O'Shea

  18. 4 out of 5

    Franco Paisio

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Mitchell

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marc Boisseau

  22. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

  23. 4 out of 5

    S

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Hartog

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shaun Lucas

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  27. 5 out of 5

    Blake Synan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Simon Risson

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Nash

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pat Burrows

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