: 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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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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Sex, Culpability And The Defence Of Provocation

Penny Crofts

sex-culpability-and-defence-provocation-150pxDanielle Tyson;

Routledge, 2013; 230pp; $51.00 (paperback)

The partial defence of provocation is one of the most controversial doctrines within the criminal law. It has now been abolished in a number of jurisdictions. In Sex, Culpability and the Defence of Provocation, Danielle Tyson provides ample historical and contemporary evidence to justify the abolition of the defence. More disturbingly, she raises questions about whether or not law reforms will change the strength and persistence of the explanation that a woman who is murdered ‘asked for it’.

(2013) 38(1) AltLJ 64

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Law And Justice On The Small Screen

Gill Boehringer

Law-and-justice-screen-cover-150pxPeter Robson and Jessica Silbey (eds);

Hart Publishing, 2012; 472 pp; $55.00 (paperback)

The study of law in popular culture is booming. Surprisingly, while interdisciplinary studies of law in the cinema are common in academic books and journals, attention to law in TV representations have been relatively scarce. (Although the Alternative Law Journal has, over the years, tended to favour reviews of the latter.) Given that TV now is probably the major source of our day-to-day understanding of the world outside, not least law and the legal system, the paucity of substantial research into the meaning and effect of TV portrayals of legal actors and institutions is surprising.

(2013) 38(1) AltLJ 65

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