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Colonisation and fire: Gendered dimensions of indigenous fire knowledge retention and revival

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Abstract


  • This chapter elucidates how gender is entwined in the spatial and temporal knowledge trajectories

    through which indigenous fire knowledge is retained and revived using a case study of eastern

    Australia and California, USA. Fire extends its roots far into the past of indigenous cultures

    worldwide, extending beyond basic domestic needs to responsible environmental stewardship.

    Fire has played a key role in the land stewardship practices of Aboriginal Australian and Native

    American women and men for millennia (Stewart et al. 2002; Gammage 2011). This includes

    cultural and gendered landscapes, such as indigenous sacred and ceremonial sites off-limits to

    women or men. However, a ‘disconnect’ between the past, present and future of both ecological

    and cultural aspects of fire underpins a tendency among many researchers, policymakers and

    practitioners to dismiss or ignore fire knowledge that is alive today among indigenous elders

    and cultural land stewards. This may be attributed to assumptions based on historic events, a

    lack of current burning and relatively low indigenous populations. Instead guidance is sought

    from archaeological, anthropological and ethnographic records from the past or from scientific

    models that project the future. An attitude also prevails that depicts historic use of fire by

    indigenous people as non-applicable in current-day environments due to environmental and

    demographic changes (White 2004). Yet, it is important to recognise that culture and knowledge

    are as dynamic as the environment is. From an applied standpoint, indigenous fire knowledge

    is fluid (for example, changing with past climatic events or gender-targeted genocide), and the

    ability to read the landscape to know how, when, why and what to burn comes with proper

    training. The concept of ‘proper training’, however, arguably plays out differently today from

    traditional indigenous fire knowledge trajectories of the past due to the impact of history and

    politics. It is this marginalised political, technological and institutional position of indigenous

    peoples’ knowledge in many ‘developed’ countries that makes this chapter relevant to a

    handbook of gender and development.

Publication Date


  • 2015

Citation


  • Eriksen, C. & Hankins, D. L. (2015). Colonisation and fire: Gendered dimensions of indigenous fire knowledge retention and revival. In A. Coles, L. Gray & J. Momsen (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development (pp. 129-137). New York, United States: Routledge.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9780415829083

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84977765594

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2647&context=sspapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/sspapers/1648

Book Title


  • The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development

Has Global Citation Frequency


Start Page


  • 129

End Page


  • 137

Place Of Publication


  • New York, United States

Abstract


  • This chapter elucidates how gender is entwined in the spatial and temporal knowledge trajectories

    through which indigenous fire knowledge is retained and revived using a case study of eastern

    Australia and California, USA. Fire extends its roots far into the past of indigenous cultures

    worldwide, extending beyond basic domestic needs to responsible environmental stewardship.

    Fire has played a key role in the land stewardship practices of Aboriginal Australian and Native

    American women and men for millennia (Stewart et al. 2002; Gammage 2011). This includes

    cultural and gendered landscapes, such as indigenous sacred and ceremonial sites off-limits to

    women or men. However, a ‘disconnect’ between the past, present and future of both ecological

    and cultural aspects of fire underpins a tendency among many researchers, policymakers and

    practitioners to dismiss or ignore fire knowledge that is alive today among indigenous elders

    and cultural land stewards. This may be attributed to assumptions based on historic events, a

    lack of current burning and relatively low indigenous populations. Instead guidance is sought

    from archaeological, anthropological and ethnographic records from the past or from scientific

    models that project the future. An attitude also prevails that depicts historic use of fire by

    indigenous people as non-applicable in current-day environments due to environmental and

    demographic changes (White 2004). Yet, it is important to recognise that culture and knowledge

    are as dynamic as the environment is. From an applied standpoint, indigenous fire knowledge

    is fluid (for example, changing with past climatic events or gender-targeted genocide), and the

    ability to read the landscape to know how, when, why and what to burn comes with proper

    training. The concept of ‘proper training’, however, arguably plays out differently today from

    traditional indigenous fire knowledge trajectories of the past due to the impact of history and

    politics. It is this marginalised political, technological and institutional position of indigenous

    peoples’ knowledge in many ‘developed’ countries that makes this chapter relevant to a

    handbook of gender and development.

Publication Date


  • 2015

Citation


  • Eriksen, C. & Hankins, D. L. (2015). Colonisation and fire: Gendered dimensions of indigenous fire knowledge retention and revival. In A. Coles, L. Gray & J. Momsen (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development (pp. 129-137). New York, United States: Routledge.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9780415829083

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84977765594

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2647&context=sspapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/sspapers/1648

Book Title


  • The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development

Has Global Citation Frequency


Start Page


  • 129

End Page


  • 137

Place Of Publication


  • New York, United States