Environment and Nature: Australian Aboriginal People

  • Dorothy Tunbridge
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8572

Australian Aboriginal people's traditional relationship to their land from a philosophical, economic, and spiritual viewpoint was quite different from that of the Europeans who arrived toward the end of the eighteenth century. Aboriginal environmental philosophy was related to their being observers, knowers, and users, rather than managers and interferers. This approach was the essence of their genius, enabling them to survive successfully for 40,000 years – perhaps much longer. Their philosophy could be described as nonmaterialistic ecocentrism, expressed through totemism, Dreaming, and the law, contrasting markedly with European materialistic anthropocentrism.

During the millennia before European occupation the continent had undergone big climatic changes followed by enormous environmental ones. Aboriginal people experienced the gradual extinction of the megafauna, commencing from the earlier part of their occupation, and, between 15,000 and 6,000 years ago, the decrease in the size...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorothy Tunbridge

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