Issue 36, July 2005

Editor: Elizabeth McMahon

This special issue of Australian Humanities Review foregrounds the Eco-Humanities section of the journal with the publication of the proceedings of Desert Gardens: Waterless lands and the problems of adaptation, convened by Ian Donaldson and Libby Robin for the Australian National University’s Humanities Research Centre in March 2005. The conference, which launched the Centre’s 2005 theme of Cultural landscapes, was the second in a sequence of three international conferences on gardens sponsored by a group of research institutions in the United States, Britain, and Australia. A selection of twelve essays has been collated and edited by the conference convenors and presented here in a collection that explores the tensions between “the illusion of stability and rootedness” created by gardens, which are, in fact, subject to evolution and change. The essays are introduced by Libby Robin and Ian Donaldson, and the collection concludes with a reflection on the conference by Sverker Sörlin.

Target Essay

In his essay latest essay, “War in the age of intelligent machines and unintelligent government”, Ian Buchanan argues that the most terrifying phase of the war machine is when peace itself is the target of destruction and perpetual unrest the desired solution of war.

Review Essay

In “Reading Stephen Muecke’s Ancient and Modern: Time, Culture, and Indigenous Philosophy” Ken Gelder identifies a shift away from the self-reflexivity that characterises much non-Indigenous engagement with Aboriginal stories to an “ambitious non-Aboriginal or ‘whitefella’ attempt to describe ‘being Aboriginal’ and to account for what Muecke calls Aboriginal philosophy”.


Richard Waterhouse reviews Dance Hall and Picture Palace; Sydney’s Romance With Modernity by Jill Julius Matthews.

In “Reading the Other” Grant Hamilton reviews Derek Attridge’s study of J.M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading : Literature in the Event.

In emuse

Stephen Muecke has responded to Ken Gelder’s review of his book Ancient and Modern: Time, Culture, and Indigenous Philosophy.

Ecological Humanities Corner

Desert Gardens: Waterless Lands and the Problems of Adaptation

Introduction to Desert Gardens” by Libby Robin and Ian Donaldson

Desert Imaginings

Gardens without fences? Landscape in Aboriginal Australia” by Bill Gammage

Keeping aridity at bay: Acclimatisation and settler imagination in nineteenth-century Australia” by Paul Fox

Radical Cactus: The Other Garden at the Getty Center” by Gail Feigenbaum

 Jardin d’Essai,Algiers” by Charles Salas

The Void, the Grid and the Garden” by William L. Fox

Adapting gardening to waterless lands

An Emerald City ? Water and the Colonial Picturesque at the National Capital, 1901-1964” by Christopher Vernon

Gardening at the ‘Edge’: Judith Wright’s desert garden, Mongarlowe, New South Wales” by Katie Holmes

Decolonising Australian gardens: gardening and the ethics of place” by Val Plumwood

Chinese market gardens in southern and western New South Wales” by Barry McGowan

‘Like a good deed in a naughty world’: gardens on the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia” by Andrea Gaynor

The abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet what’s-his-name” by Harriet Edquist

A Lunatic Garden” by Terri-ann White

Concluding Remarks

Moving Colours” by Sverker Sörlin

If you would like to contribute to this discussion, please email [email protected]