Bruce Pascoe’s book challenges the contemporary paradigm of Aboriginal civilisation before the arrival of Europeans is a finalist in the Queensland Literary Awards. Dark Emu, published by Magabala Books in March, has been shortlisted in the history category of the 2014 awards, with winners announced in Brisbane on December 8.
The book, which is continuing to attract acclaim from historians, academics and educators across the country, sets out to uncover the true nature of Aboriginal civilisation at the time of European colonisation. Pascoe rejects the 'hunter-gatherer' tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession.
A review by historian and blogger Yvonne Perkins noted that “on every page is yet another example of pre-colonial Aboriginal life that will shake the reader’s previous understanding. He rails against the tag “hunter-gatherer”. The evidence he produces suggests that this label should be discarded. What is the point of such classifications after all? Pascoe observes that tests of the degree of civilisation ‘simply test how similar a group is to European and Asian civilisations and may not reflect their success in other areas such as social cohesion, resistance to warfare or sustainable use of resources’.’
This is the second shortlisting for Dark Emu. In September it was a finalist in the Victorian Permier’s Award for Indigenous Writing.