Law, Race and Indigenous Peoples

Subject CRIM90008 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2012.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week for 12 weeks.
Total Time Commitment: Not available




Recommended Background Knowledge:

Criminology, Socio-Legal Studies, Politics and International Studies or Sociology at Undergraduate level.

Non Allowed Subjects:

191-538 Law, Race and Indigenous Peoples

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr. Julie Evans

Subject Overview:

This subject examines the legal and historical underpinnings of the contemporary over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice systems of settler states such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America. It introduces students to the history of law's relation to Indigenous peoples and its responsiveness to colonialism from the fifteenth century. In particular, the subject explores connections between sovereignty, the idea of race and the historical experiences of Indigenous peoples, including the legal frameworks of dispossession and nation-building. This subject enables students to develop a critical appreciation of the historical, social, cultural, ethical and economic contexts of law's relation to Indigenous peoples and to bring this knowledge to bear on current concerns, particularly in the Australian context.

  • to comprehend the historical development of law's relation to Indigenous peoples from 1492 to the present.
  • to appreciate the significance of these historical developments in understanding contemporary relationships between Indigenous peoples and the law in settler states.
  • to recognise and explain the significance of these developments in understanding the broader social and economic experiences of Indigenous peoples in settler states.
  • to understand the historical, social, cultural, ethical and economic contexts of European notions of sovereignty and their enduring consequences for Indigenous peoples.
  • to recognise and explain the correlation between law's relation to Indigenous peoples and the emergence of the idea of race (including criminalisation).

A short reflective essay of 1000 words (20%) due inthe first half of semester, and a major critical research essay of 4000 words (80%) due in the examination period.

Hurdle Requirements: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed.Full participation in seminar reading, seminar presentations and discussion is expected. The oral presentation of at least one seminar paper based on the weekly readings is a (non-assessed) hurdle requirement. Students who fail to meet these hurdle requirements will be deemed ineligible to submit the final piece of assessment for this subject.

Assessment that is submitted after the due date and up to 10 working days late without an approved extension will be marked on a pass/fail basis only. Assessment that is submitted later than 10 working days will not be accepted or marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available for purchase from the University Bookshop.

Recommended Texts:
  • Armitage, D., The Ideological Origins of the British Empire, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002.
  • Keal, P. European Conquest and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: The Moral Backwardness of International Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • Pagden, A., 1995, Lords of All The World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, c.1500 - c.1800 (New Haven).
  • Williams, R.A., The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest, Oxford University Press: NY, 1990
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • to demonstrate the capacity to think in theoretical terms.
  • to demonstrate advanced skills in critical thinking and analysis.
  • to demonstrate the capacity to apply theoretical and historical thinking to the analysis of contemporary social issues.
Related Course(s): Master of Criminology (CWT)
Master of International Relations
Master of Public Policy and Management (Coursework)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 150 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 24 months
Socio-Legal studies
Socio-legal Studies

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