Department of Anthropology

Richard Baker, Dept of Anthropology Presents

Fri, April 9, 2010 | EPS 1.128

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Abstract short

The intellectual baggage Europeans bought to Australia ill-prepared them for the realities of the country. It is Eurocentric to view large areas of Australia as harsh and inhospitable. This seminar will explore how while much of Australia indeed is marginal as far as European economic uses are concerned, the same is not true, if Aboriginal environmental knowledge and land uses are considered. Nowhere in Australia are the contradictions between European perceptions and the environmental reality more stark than in the tropical north. The seminar will use the case study Yanyuwa land ownership is intrinsically linked with environmental knowledge of the country, through the agency of mythology. The paths that ancestral beings travelled provide mental maps that, in general terms, are a way of understanding country and, in specific terms, link groups of people with specific places. The travels of particular ancestral beings link members of mythological based groups.


About the speaker

Dr Richard Baker is Reader in Geography at the Fenner School of Environment and Society and Deputy Dean of the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment at the Australian National University. As a human geographer his research is focused on indigenous resource management issues, particularly in the tropical north of Australia, and on community participation in resource management. He also conducts pedagogic research on improving teaching and learning and has won numerous awards for teaching excellence.  More details of his research and teaching can be found at

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