The emu: more-than-human and more-than-animal geographies

Margaret Raven, Daniel Robinson*, John Hunter

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)
    56 Downloads (Pure)


    The emu is endemic to Australia and is one of the world’s largest flightless birds. For Indigenous peoples, the emu is a highly significant and totemic species—a fact that is poorly recognised by many. Emu shows itself, and is positioned as: a national symbol in the Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms; a spirit and Dreaming-creation belief involving the sky; a scientific animal; medicine and food; an oil; and as a component that has been isolated, privatised and monopolised through the patent system. It is important to recognise the significance of animals like the emu, and its many uses. Yet to date there is limited critical discussion of the appropriation and patenting of emu oil products which appear to be based on Indigenous knowledge, uses and innovations. This article uses more-than-human and more-than-animal thinking to decentre, problematise and Indigenise “ways of thinking” about the emu. We also seek to reframe the subjugation of “traditional knowledge” in scientific discourses and to reify Indigenous Australian innovations, and relationships with animals and Country.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1526-1545
    Number of pages20
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • emu
    • Indigenous knowledge
    • medicine
    • more-than-human
    • patent
    • spiritual


    Dive into the research topics of 'The emu: more-than-human and more-than-animal geographies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this