Aboriginal Australia and democracy: Old traditions, new challenges
- Publication Type:
- The Secret History of Democracy, 2011, pp. 148 - 161
- Issue Date:
© Benjamin Isakhan and Stephen Stockwell 2011 and respective authors 2011. When Europeans arrived in Australia to stay a little over two centuries ago, they did not appreciate the complex and consultative governance and legal structures that existed within the Aboriginal communities that they met. Instead, many Europeans saw a primitive race without developed technology and assumed them to be inferior. This Euro-centric assumption of superiority, eventually bolstered by theories of social Darwinism, would be used to support the doctrine of terra nullius, a legal fiction that saw Australia as though it was without a legitimate system of governance. Seen through Europeans eyes, it is not surprising that many outsiders failed to understand the intricacies of our society, especially its complex system of laws and governance.
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