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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Jack Irish: Black Tide

Finian McGrath

jack-irish-black-tideDirected by: Jeffrey Walker; Starring: Guy Pearce, Marta Dusseldorp, Aaron Pedersen, Shane Jacobson; Distributor: Roadshow Entertainment, 2012.

‘Lawyer, gambler, debt collector – bloody great nuisance.’ Such a simple summary seems to suffice for those familiar with the literary instalment of Peter Temple’s ‘Black Tide,’ another in the famous ‘Jack Irish’ series. However for those unfamiliar, the ironic complexities of this ‘bloody great nuisance’ may come as a shock. If it is a simple, stereotypical ‘Aussie’ screenplay you are after, then this film is not for you.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 282

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The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania

Stephen Gray

The-Black-WarNicholas Clements; University of Queensland Press, 2014; 288 pages; $34.95 (paperback)

In his foreword to Nicholas Clements’ ‘The Black War’, Australia’s pre-eminent historian of frontier conflict, Henry Reynolds, contends that Clements has transcended the ‘angry contention’ of the Australia’s ‘history wars’ and ‘has, consequently, brought them to an end’ (p x). A high recommendation, indeed. Clements himself claims to have illuminated the war in Tasmania from ‘important and neglected angles’, and that his ‘unique approach has contributed a fresh layer to our understanding’ of the Black War’s importance in Australian and world history (p 204).

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 202

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Law As Engineering: Thinking About What Lawyers Do

Kate Galloway

law-as-engineeringDavid Howarth; Edward Elgar, 2014; 256 pages; UK£20 (paperback).

What is a lawyer? What do we expect from legal education? What is the connection between the two? Education in the law has been caught for centuries in cycles that alternately prioritise academic theory and focus on practical skills. (In Australia we are now tipping towards the latter.) For all this however, perhaps we remain unclear on just what it means to be a lawyer and what is the purpose of legal education. David Howarth seeks to answer these questions using the analogy of engineering. In doing so, he provides an interesting and useful account of the lawyer and their profession.

(2011) 39(3) AltLJ 203

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The Baby Farmers: A Chilling Tale Of Missing Babies, Shameful Secrets And Murder In 19th Century Aus

Beth Wilson

the-baby-farmers-annie-cossinsAnnie Cossins; Allen & Unwin, 2013; 304pp; $29.99 (paperback)

The chilling title of Annie Cossin’s book The Baby Farmers is unfortunately all too apt. It describes the poverty and deprivation suffered by poor unmarried women who sought out ‘a kind mother’ to care for their babies for a fee in the late 1800s in New South Wales. Some of these mothers may have dreamed of being reunited with their babies at some time in the future, but choosing the Makins to care for their offspring was never going to allow that to happen. Thirteen babies’ bodies were found in shallow graves in the yards of houses where the Makins and their children lived. John Makin was eventually hanged, and Sarah jailed, for murder.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 203

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Charlie’s Country

Samuel Blashki

charliescountryDirector: Rolf de Heer; starring David Gulpilil; eOne film distributor, 2013; 108 minutes.

Available on DVD November 2014.

Charlie’s Country tells the story of Charlie, an indigenous man living in a remote community whose traditional way of life becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. Charlie is exasperated by frequent visits from the police, interfering with his life and trying to enforce laws that his community doesn’t understand. Charlie, played by David Gulpilil, desperately clings to traditional ways as he attempts to find his place in a country that has drastically changed.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 203

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