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Aboriginal People and their Plants Revised paperback edition

285 x 210 mm, 192 pp, 68 colour plates, 30 b&w photos

9781921719059, $29.95, Paperback

Philip A. Clarke

Available: Now

This book will provide an overview of indigenous relationships to plants in Aboriginal Australia. It should become a major textbook for use by students of all ages, as well as having popular appeal, both in Australia and abroad. The impetus for the book is largely drawn from the establishment of the new permanent Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery at the South Australian Museum, which presently receives more than 700,000 visitors per year. The book contains themes that the author has been researching for twenty years. The book is unique, spanning the gap between botany and indigenous studies. It differs from other published Australian ‘bushtucker’ overviews by treating the study of plants as a window upon which to delve into Aboriginal culture.

The topic of Aboriginal use and perception of plants is vast and therefore far too large for full treatment of all regions in a single volume. Nevertheless, this book offers an overview to assist readers appreciate the depth of indigenous ecological knowledge about the environment. The author’s own field experiences across the breadth of Australia are used where appropriate. There are four main sections. Part 1 gives insights into Aboriginal culture through looking at the roles of plants in language, ritual and religion. Part 2 demonstrates how Aboriginal people were actively involved in managing their environment. Part 3 focuses upon the importance of particular species of plant to make food, drink, medicine, narcotics and tools. Part 4 looks at the future of Aboriginal plant use studies, particularly with respect to the changing Australian landscape. Although much of the book is steeped in the depth of the earlier traditions, consideration in this section is given to the contemporary scene and how this is changing.