Of kangaroo, fish and corn: The role of food in the unbalanced exchange in Australian aboriginal, explorer and settler relations

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Abstract

Australian Aboriginal society has, over millennia, established systems that optimised food security for its members. Moreover, people had food sovereignty. As Aboriginal people explain, the systems that optimised their food security had been worked out over years of negotiation and struggle between clans and families. This chapter examines the first contact period of approximately 35 years of the original inhabitants with the newcomer explorers and colonists and the impact of first contact on the food consciousness of Aboriginal people and newcomers alike. This chapter uses three foods, kangaroo, fish, and corn, as lenses by which to begin to theorise the often, but not always, contested relations that occurred between small family and clan groups of Aboriginal people and the early sealers, explorers and settlers of the frontier of Australia. The written records demonstrate that there were three periods of change in this fist contact period: initial avoidance, followed by expansion and contest, and finally a semblance of food security for settlers and Aboriginal Peoples? food sovereignty. Both groups? diets were fundamentally influenced by a scarcity of food during this first contact period. The findings indicate that issues of food scarcity, security and sovereignty have shaped ongoing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFood: Expressions and Impressions
EditorsDon Sanderson, Mira Crouch
Place of PublicationOxford United Kingdom
PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
Pages81 - 92
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781848882140
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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