Aboriginal Australia and Democracy: Old Traditions, New Challenges

Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
The Secret History of Democracy, 2011, First, pp. 148 - 161
Issue Date:
2011-01
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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 suqprising that many outsiders failed to understand the intricacies of our society, especially its complex system of laws and governance.
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