Category Archives: indigenous

Dark Ostrich: the attack on Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu

[Just published at Pearls & Irritations.]

Academics generally do not like outsiders trampling through their patch. Angry people are prone to missing irony. Semantics can be tricky when translating between very different cultures. These three factors seem to explain a fair bit of the vehement critique of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu in the new book Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe.

As an academic who has done a bit of trampling in others’ patches myself, I recognise some common defensive responses. ‘That’s not original, we’ve known that for decades.’ ‘You haven’t cited all my favourite sources.’ ‘You didn’t investigate this or that possibility.’ Yet sometimes an outsider can bring a fresh and stimulating perspective that carries some significant truth, even if it has its flaws, and certainly an outsider can be accorded some basic respect.

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Reflection on First Contact: Flawed But Still Valuable

[No-one else wanted to publish this last week, but it’s still worth saying.]

First Contact - Series Two - Blackfella Films Pty LtdThe 3-part TV series First Contact and its follow-up panel discussion drew some strong responses from indigenous commentators, for example here and here. Clearly some very raw feelings were touched, understandably enough. But the show was not directed to Aboriginal audiences. It was for Whitefellas who know bugger all.

Unfortunately there are still plenty of those, thanks in large part to our miserably deficient media. While I can imagine it is harrowing for Aboriginal people to be walked yet again through the same old same old, here was a media program actually intended to inform the ignorant. By that measure, and despite significant flaws, I think it has a lot of value.

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