: Law & Culture

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 Whitlam Legacy

Rob Lehrer

the-whitlam-legacyTroy Bramston (ed); Federation Press, 2013, 544pp; $59.95 (hardback).

Growing up in suburban Melbourne and attending the local primary school in the early 1970’s I had a window into what broader Australia was like at the time of the 1972 election. At Monday morning assembly the drumming squad marched us in to the quadrangle as the flag was raised and we sang God Save the Queen. The kids ate white bread sandwiches and the majority had sandy hair and freckled faces. Those of us with an ‘ethnic’ background, or with University-educated parents who read literature and attended performances of Modern Dance or art galleries, were in the distinct minority as were those who held progressive political and social views, or at least so it seemed.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 281

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Pride

Glenn Osboldstone

PrideDirected by Matthew Warchus. Starring Bill Nighy; Paddy Considine and Imelda Staunton; eOne films 2014; 120 mins

The working-class destroying policies of Margaret Thatcher may be said to have spawned its own mini film industry. Films such as The Full Monty, Billy Elliot and the extraordinarily moving Brassed Off all depict life during the 1984-85 UK miners’ strike where Thatcher waged a vicious war using all the tools of state oppression, including draconian laws against the workers protesting the pit closures and the loss of their livelihoods. Those films show the desperate means that retrenched workers often have to go to in order to keep food on their families’ tables and all feature plenty of wonderful music.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 282

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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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