How have individuals and communities responded to change and interacted with the physical environments around them? In Earth and Industry Erik Eklund and Julie Fenley assemble contributors to examine historic and contemporary relations of people and the environment in an area – Gippsland, Victoria, Australia – built upon a many-layered history of environmental modifications and once again on the cusp of rapid economic and social change.
Taking account of Aboriginal and ‘white’ relations, ‘old’ and ‘new’ forms of pastoralism and agriculture, water and coastal management and fishing, mining and industrialisation, forestry, heritage management, and increasing political tensions in relation to the environment, the result is a story of challenges, hardships and conflicts, as well as resourcefulness and innovation.
The collection offers an encompassing portrait of the region, exploring its historical, social and geographical diversity. It takes us to parts of the region which belie the predominant media image of the smoke stacks of the Latrobe Valley, but will also be of interest to those seeking to understand the complex interplay of ‘country’ and ‘city’ within a world of international economic connections and flows.
Erik Eklund is the Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin. His most recent book, Mining Towns: making a living, making a life, was published in 2012 by UNSW Press. His previous work, Steel Town: the making and breaking of Port Kembla won the NSW Premier’s Prize for Regional and Community History in 2003.
Julie Fenley is a lecturer at Federation University, Gippsland Campus. Her research focuses on Aboriginal history, and her PhD thesis, “‘Dealing with a Nation’: Conceptualising Aboriginal Sovereignty, 1950-1990” examined Indigenous peoples’ engagement with the Australian state. She also has a broad interest in public history and museum studies, and recent publications have included heritage studies funded by Heritage Victoria.