Bruce Pascoe appointed professor of indigenous agriculture

By Jamie Salter

Indigenous author and advocate Bruce Pascoe has joined the University of Melbourne to build knowledge and understanding of indigenous agriculture.

Mr Pascoe has been appointed as Melbourne enterprise professor of indigenous agriculture in the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences.

Mr Pascoe is best known for his 2014 non-fiction work Dark Emu, documenting and arguing for the restoration of forgotten food production and land management techniques used by indigenous communities over thousands of years.

He said his interest in developing traditional indigenous farming and foods for broader consumption encouraged him to join the university.

“I wanted to be in a position where I could be closer to potential research students,” Mr Pascoe said.

“We’re identifying areas all the time where we need some research done.”

Mr Pascoe said he saw an opportunity to open the door to greater collaboration with Yorta Yorta people at the faculty’s Dookie agricultural campus.

“Let's put our food science there,” he said.

“There must be incredible (native) flavours and salads and tubers and fruits that we can begin work on.

“So, we're going to need land and we're going to need a research facility that is Aboriginal-owned or has Aboriginal management.”

University of Melbourne associate provost professor Marcia Langton said Mr Pascoe’s appointment provided an opportunity to further understanding and documentation of indigenous agricultural practices.

“Bruce Pascoe’s commitment to the recovery of indigenous agricultural practices and native plants will enrich our curricula and contribute to the recognition of indigenous knowledge as part of the mission of our university community,” she said.

She said the university hoped to attract more young people to agricultural studies in order to solve critical issues around reconciliation and sustainability.