Anthropologist and archaeologist say Dark Emu was littered with weak evidence and unsourced claims
Two leading Australian academics have savaged the best-selling Indigenous history book Dark Emu for being riddled with mistakes, accusing its author Bruce Pascoe of lacking “true scholarship” and ignoring Aboriginal voices.
In a new book, Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, anthropologist Peter Sutton and archaeologist Keryn Walshe claim Professor Pascoe’s work was “littered with unsourced material”, used selective quotations and exaggerated “weak evidence”, including the suggestion Aboriginal people had occupied Australia for 120,000 years.
Published in 2014, Dark Emu argued for a reconsideration of the “hunter-gatherer” description for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and depicted more complex Indigenous societies, which employed sophisticated agriculture and governance. It has sold more than 260,000 copies and has inspired a children’s book, a teaching resource and a stage play and won some of the nation’s richest and most prestigious literary awards, including the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing and both the Book of the Year and the Indigenous Writers’ Prize in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.
But Professor Sutton, from the University of Adelaide, who has lived and worked with Aboriginal people …
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