Cover image of the review

James Tylor: un-resettling

15 Apr 2017
Vivien Anderson Gallery 29 Mar - 29 Apr 2017

In recent years, Bruce Pascoe's widely read Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? (2014) and Bill Gammage's The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia (2011) have helped cultivate a more general understanding of the history of Aboriginal land management, agricultural practices, and general custodianship of the lands and waterways of this continent. Their scholarship has thoroughly obliterated many of the 'facts' underpinning racist 'theories' that accompanied colonisation, such as the notion that Aboriginal people lived day-by-day, hunting, fishing and harvesting without the technology to store and preserve foods, or that there were no architectural impositions upon the to land to be seen. On the contrary, Pascoe and Gammage meticulously compile information derived from cultural memory, they examine extant sites, and trawl through early colonial diaries and journals to demonstrate just how complex and sophisticated Aboriginal land management systems were at the moment of colonisation, and how, without continuous Aboriginal land management (notably without controlled burnings), the Australian bush has become the dangerous tinderbox we know it to be today. Indeed, in many instances throughout his book, Pascoe suggests how commercial farmers in Australia today might learn from the many-thousand-year-old Aboriginal land management technologies to increase productivity and decrease the deleterious environmental effects that come as the result of growing wheat and farming hard-footed animals such as cows, sheep and pigs.

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