Wild Harvesting, Self-Sown Crops, and the Ambiguous Modernity of Australian Agriculture

Rebecca Jones, Andrea Gaynor

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Abstract

The beginning of European-style agriculture in Australia, following colonization by Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, occurred at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Australian agriculture developed a precocious global export orientation along with a broad uptake of scientific methods and new agricultural technologies. We argue that although Australian agriculture was "born modern," its modernity was ambiguous, as sitting beside its conventionally modern attributes were practices such as the harvesting, by farmers, of wild plants and animals as well as self-sown cereal crops. These practices were widespread and contributed significantly to the operation of the farm and the broader agricultural economy. The ubiquity and importance of these practices challenge conventional understandings of the modernity of Australian agriculture by disrupting ideas of the supremacy of the export economy, the ubiquity of scientific agriculture, and the displacement of human control from its position at the center of modern agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-232
Number of pages21
JournalAgricultural History
Volume93
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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