The Place of Indigenous People: Locating Crime and Criminal Justice in a Colonising World
In: D Baker, A Harkness & B Harris (eds) Locating Crime in Context and Place: Rural and Regional Perspectives. Leichardt: Federation Press. Forthcoming
11 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2015 Last revised: 17 Sep 2015
Date Written: 2015
Since British colonisation began at the end of the eighteenth century, the history of Australia has been a struggle between Indigenous peoples and the colonisers over place. This is often represented as a struggle over land - it's control and use. Yet for Indigenous people, land was never simply an economic commodity to be exploited. It was 'place' in a deeper sense of the word, a fundamental part of Indigenous cosmology and a necessary foundation to a person's and group's ontology or being in the world. Place, then, can be conceptualised as both a physical and metaphysical domain. Indeed both domains are intertwined, perhaps inseparable.
This chapter argues that the struggle over place in its broader meaning remains core to understanding the social and political positioning of Indigenous people within the criminal law and its institutions. Such an argument is both theoretical in its consideration of the place of Indigenous people within their law and the law of the coloniser, and also deeply 'practical' in its implications. The argument goes to the heart of understanding why Indigenous people start their discussion on reform and change within the criminal justice system with a demand for a repositioning of Indigenous people as colonised peoples.
Keywords: Indigenous Australians, Crime, Criminal Justice, Colonisation
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