News from the CRC

Daniel May conducting a prescribed burn near Chico, California. Photo: Don Hankins.

Daniel May conducting a prescribed burn near Chico, California. Photo: Don Hankins.
Daniel May conducting a prescribed burn near Chico, California. Photo: Don Hankins.

Research abroad for PhD

A PhD student has been living abroad for five months to support his studies on Indigenous burning for cultural purposes.

CRC PhD associate student Daniel May is in the United States where he has been conducting research and collecting primary evidence for his student project Taking fire: the political and cultural influence of Indigenous burning in settler societies.

“I’m interested in how non-Indigenous people have understood Indigenous burning,” Daniel says.

Indigenous communities user their knowledge of the land to start fires across Australia for many reasons including vegetation regeneration, to move through thick grassland and to attract animals for hunting purposes.

Many of these practices were feared and disapproved by Europeans upon their arrival in Australia.

“I think there’s similarities in how non-Indigenous people in both countries have come to understand Indigenous burning,” Daniel says.

The PhD student says Australia has a greater understanding of Indigenous burning culture when compared to the US.

“General community awareness in some populated states is growing massively in Australia.”

Daniel’s passion for environmental history sparked his interest in the cultural and political factors denying Indigenous people from lighting fires in certain environments.

Daniel has been conducting prescribed burns, researching historical fire management, and gathering information on how the cultural burning movement in the US compares to Australia as part of his Endeavour Research Fellowship through the Australian National University.

He has been working alongside world leading geographer and expert on Native American and Aboriginal Australian fire management practices, Professor Don Hankins (California State University) and librarian Eben Lehman, who works at the Forest History Society, a research library dedicated to forestry.

Daniel says he will miss the burritos in the US but is looking forward to his return home to Australia at the end of July.

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