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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The Intercept

Mike Daly

the intercept by dick wolfDick Wolf; Sphere Hachette, 2012; 400pp; 29.99 (paperback)

For two decades Law and Order was a must-watch TV for crime aficionados and legal professionals alike. By avoiding sensationalism and focusing instead on the routine of criminal investigation, trial preparation and process, the US series provided unsensational, yet engrossing insights into the work of New York police detectives and the district attorney’s team of prosecutors.

It spawned spinoffs from Los Angeles to the UK, Paris and Russia, plus the superior Law and Order Criminal Intent and voyeuristic Law and Order Special Victims Unit (still running) until finally, series creator and prolific screenwriter Dick Wolf has turned novelist.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 136

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Law Of The Jungle

Kate Galloway

law of the jungle michael christoffersenA film by Michael Christoffersen; Radiator Films; Human Rights Arts and Film Festival 2013

The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival 2013 is showing across Australia during May and June. One of the films on offer is Law of the Jungle.

This film charts the progress of a trial of Indigenous Peruvians who have protested against environmental degradation of their land, committed by global oil corporation Pluspetrol. During the peaceful protest on the company’s air strip, the special forces police open fire and in the fracas a police officer is killed. Fifty protesters are arrested, tortured and incarcerated for eight months before being approached by human rights lawyer Jorge Tacuri who has been informed of their plight.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 135

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Slow Violence And The Environmentalism Of The Poor

Daniel Reynolds

slow violence and environmentalism of the poor nixonRob Nixon; Harvard University Press, 2013; 280pp; $65.00 (paperback)

At first glance, the title to Rob Nixon’s latest book may baffle casual window shoppers; ‘what has violence to do with environmentalism?’ one could quite reasonably ask. Yet this popular tendency to treat the two concepts as worlds apart is precisely what Nixon seeks to address, and he does so with great vigour and persuasive force.

The central premise of the text is best put in the author’s own words. In his opening chapter, Nixon laments that:

Violence is customarily conceived as an event or action that is immediate in time, explosive and spectacular in space, and erupting into instant sensational visibility. We need, I believe, to engage a different a kind of violence, a violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 134

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Our Greatest Challenge: Aboriginal Children And Human Rights

Terri Libesman

our gratest challenge hanna mcgladeHannah McGlade; Aboriginal Studies Press, 2012; 256pp; $39.95 (paperback)

Hannah McGlade brings her experience as a Noongar woman who suffered child sexual abuse, her expertise as a human rights lawyer, compassion and passion to Our Greatest Challenge: Aboriginal children and human rights. She addresses sexual assault of Aboriginal children with a directness and honesty which is often shied away from because of the taboo, shame and uncomfortable complexity which sexual violence against children generates. Our Greatest Challenge analyses sexual violence against Aboriginal children as a continuity of and in the context of colonial violence, in particular the extensive historical violence against Aboriginal women and girls. McGlade provides an analysis of the intersecting and compounding influences of race, gender and colonial legacies which strip many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children of safety in a routine way. Institutional failings are made more powerful with personal accounts of the adverse impact of the criminal justice system, and more broadly Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal societies’ failure to prioritise the rights of Aboriginal women and children.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 134

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Indigenous Crime And Settler Law: White Sovereignty After Empire

Thalia Anthony

Indigenous-crime-and-settler-law-coverHeather Douglas and Mark Finnane; Palgrave Macmillan, 2012; 280pp; $150.00

Since the Mabo decision, there has been a flourishing of research on the techniques of colonial common law to assert British jurisdiction. This has shed light on the long shadows of British jurisdiction on postcolonial Australian society and particularly Indigenous societies. Drawing on property cases and a rich analysis of the legal archive, property scholars have set into sharp relief how common law courts assert ‘jurisdiction in order to supplant other sites of adjudication and authority’.1 They have written extensively about jurisdiction as a technology of sovereignty and have channelled their work into an analysis of the place of British law in asserting jurisdiction over inter se crimes — crimes committed by an Indigenous perpetrator on an Indigenous victim in the same group — for furthering the project of sovereignty.

(2013) 38(1) AltLJ 63

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