Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu which rewrote Australian Aboriginal History has been exposed as one of the greatest literary hoaxes of the modern era. On this week’s WilmsFront I speak with Roger Karge editor of Exposing Dark Emu about the book’s rise and fall.
After reading Dark Emu which argues that ancient aboriginal Australians were agriculturalists, not hunter-gatherers Roger decided to go over Bruce Pascoe’s historical references and found the book was just made up. He founded Dark Emu Exposed in 2018 with more joining his cause and Aboriginal people reached out to him to decry Pascoe’s rewriting of their history. Bruce Pascoe has never provided any proof of his claim of Aboriginal heritage.
The book’s alternate history took off due to taxpayer-funded institutions praising it, including state literary awards and numerous interviews with author Bruce Pascoe airing on the ABC. Dark Emu then made its way into the school curriculum when it was embraced by state government education departments.
Roger believes the reason Dark Emu’s new history was so widely embraced is that it helped further the white guilt Aboringal cultural genocide narrative that European settlers destroy an advanced Aboriginal civilization. This new history could then be utilized to further aboriginal sovereignty claims and a voice to parliament under the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The most high-profile whistleblower on the Dark Emu hoax was Josephine Cashman at the end of 2019 who as a result was sacked from Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt’s Senior Advisory Group. This was when commentator Andrew Bolt exposed the Dark Emu hoax to a wider audience.
Because the initial critics of Dark Emu were from the ‘right’ side of politics its fake history was dismissed by Aboriginal and leftists activists. This was until mainstream academics Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe published their critique Farmers or Hunter-gatherers by Melbourne University Press last month.
Despite Dark Emu’s historical narrative now being discredited state governments have not ordered it to be pulled from schools, political leaders don’t like to admit that they were wrong. Roger believes that Bruce Pascoe will be quietly moved aside by the Aboriginal activists who supported him and Pascoe will reinvent himself as an environmental activist.
Dark Emu Exposed – The Myth of Aboriginal Agriculture?
Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu – Quadrant Books
Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate – Melbourne University Publishing