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.
Peter Sutton FASSA is an Australian social anthropologist and linguist who has, over more than 50 years, contributed to recording Australian Aboriginal languages, promoted Australian Aboriginal art, mapped Australian Aboriginal cultural landscapes, and increased society's general understanding of contemporary Australian Aboriginal social structures and systems of land tenure.
Dr Keryn 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.
"Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate by anthropologist and linguist Peter Sutton and archaeologist Keryn Walshe is an impressively researched work of scholarship. "
– Sydney Morning Herald
"Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe, can only be welcomed by all who want to discuss the issues it raises outside the nasty platforms of the culture wars."
– The Monthly
"A volume with the twin virtues of rigour and readability."
– The Conversation
"Measured, thoughtful and rigorously researched"
– Virginia Trioli
"A masterful book paying deep respect to the academy, the discipline, and the agency of Aboriginal people in archaeology and anthropology."
– The Australian
"I welcome this deeply thoughtful and scholarly response to Dark Emu."
– Emeritus Professor Tom Griffiths, Australian National University
"A must-read book for those concerned with evidence-based truth-telling. "
– Dr Kellie Pollard, Wiradjuri archaeologist, lecturer and researcher, Charles Darwin University
"This formidably well researched volume provides an extended, scholarly and readable critique."
– Dr Ian Keen, Australian National University
"This book takes Pascoe's Dark Emu to a higher level of constructive debate, providing a win-win for traditional Aboriginal knowledges and for those who seek to explore them."
– Professor Paul Memmott, University of Queensland