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Bruce Pascoe on Aboriginal culture and history

Speaker(s): Bruce Pascoe

  • Date recorded: 14 Nov 2017

  • Duration: 41:05

'Almost no Australians know anything about Aboriginal civilisation because our educators, emboldened by historians, politicians and the clergy, have refused to mention it for 230 years.'

– Bruce Pascoe

About this video

Listen to award-winning writer, editor and anthologist Bruce Pascoe, as he delivers the 2017 Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture.

In his thought-provoking and impassioned talk, Bruce calls for a reappraisal and re-examination of Aboriginal history and culture, misinterpreted and ignored since colonial times.

He argues that for hundreds of years there has been a failure to inform Australians of the success and achievements of Aboriginal culture, from land management practices to agriculture, irrigation and the construction of houses.

Evidence of millennia of agriculture and settlement was erased from reports penned by early explorers – the fields of cultivated grain, yam harvesting, fishing weirs, irrigation and homes of a society that has been proven to pre-date the 'out of Africa' theory.

Rather than perpetuating colonial-era myths, Bruce calls on today's scholars to bring to light the true story of the world's oldest civilisation, which not only invented bread and roads but also social settlements.

About the Stephen Murray-Smith Lecture

This annual memorial lecture commemorates the contribution to Australian intellectual life made by Stephen Murray-Smith, founding editor of Overland magazine. The lecture promotes research and debate in the broad areas of Stephen's interest and influence.


Bruce Pascoe, of Bunurong, Yuin and Tasmanian heritage, was awarded the New South Wales Premier's Book of the Year in 2016 for Dark emu, which argues for a reconsideration of the 'hunter-gatherer' tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians, and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession.

Explore other Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lectures