Law & Culture - 2011 - Vol 36(1)

Law and CultureIn our Law & Culture column, you will find original works of fiction, reviews of a wide range of publications — not just conventional legal texts — as well as broader cultural forms such as films, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, art exhibitions and so on. The column links in with the Alternative Law Journal’s focus on law for the disadvantaged, human rights law and law reform.

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A Voice of Reason: Reflections on Australia

Justine Bell

Voice of_Reason_LC_36_1Ian Lowe; Penguin Books, 2010; 272 pp;
$34.95 (paperback)

A Voice of Reason is the latest book by renowned scientist and conservationist, Professor Ian Lowe. The book is a collection of selected writings from the past 20 years, organised around the key themes of 'Science, technology and the environment', 'Economics and politics', 'Culture and health', and 'Education'.

Lowe notes at the outset that he resisted the urge to substantially edit and change his works, which gives the book a 'time capsule' feel. The pieces included are a mixture of articles, book chapters, opinion pieces and conference presentations. They range from ominous observations about the future of the planet, through to light-hearted pieces about cricket and the inappropriateness of wearing suits in Australian summers. Lowe hand-picked this particular selection of writings to 'tell a consistent story about the human condition in 21st century Australia and the ways we can work to shape a better future' (p 8). Despite the seemingly disparate range of topics canvassed, he manages to do just this.

(2011) 36(1) AltLJ 71

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Crime

Stephen Gray

Crime AltLJ_LandC_36_1Ferdinand von Schirach; Text Publishing, 2011; 200 pp,
$34.95 (paperback)

Ferdinand von Schirach is a prominent German criminal defence lawyer. He is also well-connected — or so, at least, it would seem from the background against which play out many of these short, non-fiction accounts. His stories, which are based on real cases he has defended, are replete with details of an older-style, sometimes aristocratic Germany. Such details are tinged with the baroque and an almost Hoffman-like grotesque — stories of bankers and big businessmen, of gilded youth playing cello in ruined castles, of rustic farmers and feudal counts in ancient country houses on whose walls hang stuffed East African buffalo heads.

(2011) 36(1) AltLJ 72

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Animal Law in Australasia AND Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand

Michael Allen Fox

Sankoff Animal_Law_36_1Animal law in Australasia: A new dialogue
Peter Sankoff and Steven White (eds); Federation Press, 2009; 418 pp;
$69.90 (paperback)

 


Cao Animal_Law_36_1Animal law in Australia and New Zealand
Deborah Cao, with Katrina Sharman and Steven White; Lawbook/Thomson Reuters, 2010; 321 pp;
$85.00 (paperback)

Interest in animal law is growing, with a significant number of law schools worldwide now offering courses in the area, and a small group of lawyers in various countries dedicating themselves to teach and/or practice in this field. These books are therefore timely, in that they carefully describe and examine the legal apparatus that regulates the use and treatment of domesticated (and, to some extent, wild) animals today. They also have the overt purpose of legitimating this field of inquiry, for as Peter Sankoff remarks, 'animal law still has many critics, and is occasionally dismissed as a matter unworthy of "real" legal study' (Sankoff & White, p 389). Although the focus is on Australia and New Zealand, very similar legal regimes are in place elsewhere and are drawn upon for comparison. (One volume purports to cover 'Australasia', as is seen in its title above, but in fact reference is made only to Australia and New Zealand.) International laws are also explored in the Sankoff & White collection.

(2011) 36(1) AltLJ 72

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Contesting Native Title

John Southalan

Ritter Native_Title_36_1David Ritter; Allen & Unwin, 2009, 250pp,
$45.00

Contesting Native Title was the second of two books by David Ritter in 2009 about native title. The first book, The Native Title Market, was a short, incisive affair examining the politics of negotiations between Indigenous groups and companies. Contesting Native Title provides a far more detailed engagement with the whole native title system in Australia: its history, structure, the ‘actors’, and their performance. The book gives a political and social explanation of how native title developed and operates, rather than detailing its legal content and structure.

Ritter briefly backgrounds the events that led to the establishment of Australia’s native title system in 1993. But his focus is on what has happened since then, and he usefully categorises three phases of native title’s operation in Australia. The first phase, 1994 to 1998, he characterises as flux and uncertainty: the Native Title Act (‘NTA’) had commenced but its wording left many areas still to be resolved. The second phase, 1998 to 2002, he sees as definition, with court decisions providing increasing clarity of the rights and power in the system. Since 2002, we have been in the third stage, agreement-making and consensus, where greater clarification has seen more resolution of native title claims through mediation and agreement.

(2011) 36(1) AltLJ 74

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