Encountering Aboriginal Legalities through a Literary Jurisprudence of Suffering

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Challenges to Living Together Transculturalism, Migration, Exploitation. for a Semioethics of Human Relations, 2017, pp. 323 - 332
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In Australia, law’s imaginary is part of our colonial legacy. Law’s narratives and figures, as well as what we might more widely think of as its practices of representation, produce social, economic and political realities. The imaginary is therefore an important domain of intervention for social justice, which must be interrogated and challenged. Such interrogation can be thought of as a ‘literary jurisprudence’, which involves taking up exemplary practices of representation that model ways alternative ways of thinking about relations between Aboriginal and Western laws. This means thinking beyond the abstractions of legal analytic categories to include affect, experience and culture, providing a method that can resist and re-situate Western law’s continuing claims to authority over Aboriginal people. In this chapter, by way of an example of these practices, I provide a reading of harm and authority in the latest novel by Alexis Wright, a leading Australian novelist. I argue that what is needed, and what this reading provides, is a literary jurisprudence that challenges law’s imaginary.
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