Among the most productive ecosystems on earth, wetlands are also some of the most vulnerable. Australian Wetland Cultures argues for the cultural value of wetlands. Through a focus on swamps and their conservation, the volume makes a unique contribution to the growing interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities.
The authors investigate the crucial role of swamps in Australian society through the idea of wetland cultures. The broad historical and cultural range of Australian Wetland Cultures spans pre-settlement indigenous Australian cultures, nineteenth-century European colonization, and contemporary Australian engagements with wetland habitats.
The contributors situate the Australian emphasis in international cultural and ecological contexts. Case studies from Perth, Western Australia, provide practical examples of the conservation of wetlands as sites of interlinked natural and cultural heritage. The volume will appeal to readers with interests in anthropology, Australian studies, cultural studies, ecological science, environmental studies, and heritage protection.
List of Figures
Part I. Australian Wetland Cultures
- The Swamp / Nandi Chinna
- Racecourse Lagoon, Uralla, New South Wales / John C. Ryan
Ch. 1 Introduction to Australian Wetland Humanities: Thinking About (and With) Swamps / John Charles Ryan and Li Chen
Ch. 2 Rainbow Serpent Anthropology, or Rainbow Spirit Theology, or Swamp Serpent Sacrality and Marsh Monster Maternity? / Rod Giblett
Ch. 3 Artist and Swamp: Wetlands in Australian Painting and Photography / Rod Giblett
Ch. 4 Poet and Swamp: Wetlands in Australian Verse / John Charles Ryan
Ch. 5 Plant and Swamp: The Biocultural Histories of Five Australian Hydrophytes / John Charles Ryan
Partt II Western Australian Wetland Cultures
- Beeliar / Nandi Chinna
- Three Wetland Poems by John Kinsella, Dedicated to J.P. Quinton
Poem for the Gathering
The Trees Along Bibra Lake
Resisting from Within the Green Tent at Bibra Drive, Beeliar (For James)
Ch. 6 Environmental Activism and Wetlands Conservation in Western Australia / Philip Jennings
Ch. 7 Where Fanny Balbuk Walked: Reenvisioning Perth’s Wetlands / John Charles Ryan, Danielle Brady, and Christopher Kueh
Ch. 8 The Cultural Significance of Wetlands: Perth’s Lost Swamps to the Beeliar Wetlands / Danielle Brady and Jeffrey Murray
Ch. 9 Swamp-philia and Paludal Heroism: The Passion of Wetland Conservationists in Australia and Elsewhere / John Charles Ryan and Li Chen
- Power of Deluge / Glen Phillips
Ch. 10 Epilogue: Twenty-Five Years of Wetland Studies in the Humanities / Rod Giblett
About the Contributors
John Charles Ryan is a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New England, Australia, and an honorary research fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of Western Australia. He is the author of Plants in Contemporary Poetry: Ecocriticism and the Botanical Imagination.
Li Chen is a researcher and writer for environmental conservation and community development NGOs in Perth and has published in the journals Heritage and The Conversation.
"A wonderfully engrossing book, elegantly championing the pivotal role of wetlands in Australian cultural life. The chapters within this book are as serpentine and mesmerising as the waterscapes they interrogate. The book draws the reader into considerations of why we often experience cognitive dissonance in these landscapes, to explore how wetlands as 'othering' spaces is embedded within interconnected artistic, semantic and physical practices. Australian Wetland Cultures provides us with a timely reminder that these paludal environments are a palimpsest of our ever shifting human drive to mould and mark landscapes. Our cultural perceptions shape our relationship with space, and the authors prove this is nowhere more true than within wetlands; places for the dead, the living and the more-than-human. I encourage readers to immerse themselves within this wonderful text, with an eye to appraising wetlands with a renewed vigour henceforth."
– Mary Gearey, University of Brighton