Reading the evidentiary void: The body at the scene of writing

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Journal Article
Griffith Law Review, 2009, 18 (2), pp. 298 - 313
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© 2009, (publisher). All rights reserved. In Cubillo v Commonwealth (2000), a form of consent with the purported thumbprint of Topsy Kundrilba was found to offer sufficiently persuasive evidence to reject the claim of forcible removal of an Indigenous child. In this landmark action in relation to the Stolen Generations, the thumbprint was imbued with the status of a signature which was interpreted as indicating a mother's informed consent to the removal of her son. Drawing on Derrida's concept of iterability, I suggest that the thumbprint cannot be read as a signature, and propose an alternative deconstructive reading. I argue that the form of consent exemplifies colonial documentary practices which were implemented in an attempt to make Indigenous subjects legible and to produce subjectivity which conformed to normative white patriarchal order.
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