[Just published in the Canberra Times($), with a few editorial liberties.]
Bruce Pascoe’s popular book Dark Emu argues that First Australians lived complex lifestyles that included durable dwellings and cultivation of food and that they were far from the old ‘primitive nomad’ label.
However a new book, Farmers or Hunter Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe, is severely critical of Dark Emu, claiming it is riddled with errors, is derogatory towards hunter-gatherers, neglects the spiritual side of First Australians’ lives and pushes antiquated ideas of ‘progress’. Several historian reviewers seem to agree the new book ‘demolishes’ Dark Emu.
Paul Barry, of the ABC’s Media Watch, lamented that he and many people accepted Pascoe’s claims too uncritically, yet now they seem to be accepting the new book’s claims just as uncritically.