Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe In conversation with

21 Jun 2021

ANU Meet the Author Series

Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe will be in conversation with Francesca Merlan on their new book Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, an authoritative study of pre-colonial Australia that dismantles and re-frames 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.

‘This richly satisfying study draws on generations of research and cross-cultural dialogues on Country to offer a complex portrait of First Nations cultures, economies and spirituality. Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? is infused with a profound esteem for the unique achievements of humanity on this continent over millennia’. – Emeritus Professor Tom Griffith, ANU.

Dr 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.

Professor Francesca Merlan is Professor of Anthropology , School of Archaeology and Anthropology, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.

Dr Ian Keen, Honorary Associate Professor, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, will give the vote of thanks.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, registration for this event is essential and social distancing must be adhered to. Guests must check in on arrival using the CBR Check-In app.

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