Publication Details

Gill, N. J. (2005). Aboriginal pastoralism, social embeddedness and cultural continuity in central Australia. Society and Natural Resources, 18 669-714.


Aboriginal people are involved in pastoral enterprises throughout the inland and north of Australia. This has generated difficulties as landowners and policymakers struggled with conflicts between Aboriginal social structures and the demands of running commercial businesses. Problems often arose due to imposition of nonindigenous norms regarding land use. It has been suggested that pastoralism can generate social and cultural benefits for Aboriginal landowners, but these have not been investigated in any detail. Drawing on the concept of social embeddedness and fieldwork with Aboriginal pastoralists, this article identifies, describes, and ranks sociocultural benefits arising from Aboriginal pastoralism. Pastoralism fulfilled uniquely Aboriginal aims and was most important for its role in Aboriginal social and cultural and reproduction. In the Aboriginal context, pastoralism should be conceived in terms that include these Aboriginal motivations and that recognize the social embeddedness of pastoralism.



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