Law & Culture

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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Transactions

Nigel Stobbs

Transactions-smAli Alizadeh; University of Queensland Press, 2013; 240pp; $19.95 (paperback)

There is something of the style of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or Ghostwritten (or even of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller) in this book of thematically-related short stories by Iranian-born, Australian academic and writer Ali Alizadeh. It’s a work which tries to shed light on the moral and political centre by exploring the darkness on the fringes. The best writing of this sort is usually done by those who have lived on those fringes, as Alizadeh has in his experiences as an Iranian migrant. He is also well travelled in both geographic and cultural senses. The book is a commentary and exposition of the costs of human ‘transactions’ in a range of contexts, but which form a cohesive narrative about the sad fact that, in every market, there are losers. The larger the market (globalisation) the greater the gulf between winners and losers. Homogeneity of opportunity and meaning may seem like an ideal to aspire to, but it can lead to cultural sterility and generational disillusionment.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 67

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Refugees And Asylum Seekers: Finding A Better Way

Michelle Blewett

Aus21 Refugees and asylum seekersBob Douglas and Jo Wodak (eds); Australia 21, 2013; 112 pp; $25 (paperback) or e-book available as free download — http://www.australia21.org.au/

Amid a barrage of incendiary rhetoric and populist policy on asylum seekers, this publication is a breath of fresh air. Twenty-five notable Australians hailing from diverse professional backgrounds — including the clergy, law, defence, medicine, media and public service — have united to insist that we find a better way to treat asylum seekers.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 66

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Profits Of Doom: How Vulture Capitalism Is Swallowing The World

Kate Galloway

Profits-of-Doom-smAntony Loewenstein; Melbourne University Press, 2013; 261 pages; $32.99 (paperback)

In this extensively researched book, journalist Antony Loewenstein takes the reader on a world tour. From the remotest parts of Australia — at the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre, Christmas Island and James Price Point, to Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and finally Haiti — Loewenstein prosecutes his argument that, worldwide, ‘vulture capitalism’ is thriving on the misery of those dispossessed and impoverished by disaster.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 66

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The Devouring Dragon: How China’s Rise Threatens The Natural World

Rowena Maguire

the-devouring-dragon-bookCraig Simons; Scribe, 2013; 304pp; $29.95 (paperback)

One nation that has captured the world’s attention is the People’s Republic of China (‘China’). China’s economic development is unprecedented with a staggering 66 million people being brought above the poverty line in the last

30 years, an undertaking envied by many developing nation governments. The size of the Chinese economy has almost doubled every seven years and life for many Chinese has significantly improved. This rapid economic development has however had serious ramifications for the Chinese and the global environment. Within China, this rapid growth has contributed to losses of biodiversity, wetlands and agricultural land. While at the international level, China has overtaken the United States as largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, and the growing wealth of its billion-person population is placing increased pressure and demand for natural and agriculture resources.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 65

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West Of Memphis

Bill Swannie

West-of-MemphisDirected by Amy Berg; starring: Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin; Universal Sony, 2012, 147 mins, DVD $19.99

Nothing causes public hysteria and outrage like the murder of a young child. When three 8-year-old boys mysteriously disappear from the small town of West Memphis in 1993, and their naked bodies are later found in an irrigation ditch, the town’s residents demand quick and severe punishment for those responsible. Further details emerge during the rushed investigation, such as marks on the boy’s bodies (including their genitals) which look like knife wounds. Rumours circulate in the town that the deaths were part of a satanic ritual involving the drinking of human blood.

(2013) 38(4) AltLJ 285

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