The career of a museum-based anthropologist is diverse, involving the curation of artefact collections, organising exhibits, answering inquiries, and conducting fieldwork. Philip A Clarke started work at the South Australian Museum over 30 years ago, and, during that time, his role changed from museum assistant, to collection manager, registrar, curator, and head of anthropology. There are many ways to explore a culture other than your own, and Clarke chose ethbotany as the 'window' through which to gain insights into Aboriginal Australia. Ethbotany is a diverse field that is concerned with investigating the relationships between human cultures and the flora. In the past, it was mainly used by scholars who studied the societies of hunter-gatherers and n-Western horticulturalists. Today, it is increasingly being used to document aspects of the lives of Indigeus peoples in a postcolonial world. Clarke argues that we can understand a people better if we kw how they see and use plants. In this book, Clarke dips into his field journals to provide a rich account of journeys -- as both an anthropologist and an ethbotanist -- that span the temperate, arid, and tropical zones of Australia and neighbouring landmasses. Clarke describes the cultural and natural heritage of each region, examining the distinctiveness of the plant life used by Australia's Aboriginal people.
Dr Philip Clarke is Head of Anthropology and Manager of Sciences at the South Australian Museum and was the Principal Curator of the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery in Adelaide.