1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
9 units of any first level topics
Topic description
How are race, crime and sovereignty connected? By using the foundational legal fiction of terra nullius as the starting point, this topic proceeds to examine contemporary ‘legal fiction' in order to bring into focus a number of politically charged, socio-legal issues in the area of Australian race relations. The mythological meanings surrounding a range of traditional legal concepts such as 'equality before the law', the 'rule of law', 'racial equality' and 'sovereignty' will be examined by situating these legal ideas within the context of debates around the 'refugee crisis', 'ethnic crime'. We will be examining the increasing racialisation of punishment in civil as well as criminal contexts. These subject areas will be examined through critical and discursive analysis of primary legal texts as well as through social and cultural theory in order to disclose the interconnections between race, crime and sovereignty.
Educational aims
The principal aim of this topic is to bring into focus the connections between race, crime and sovereignty and to foster an appreciation of the complexity of these questions in political, cultural and socio-legal terms. A further aim is to teach a critical approach to law which can effectively become a critical practice when used in the context of law reform and policy work.
Expected learning outcomes
On completing this topic students will demonstrate:

  • an understanding of the complex interconnections between race, crime and sovereignty

  • an ability to take socio-cultural and critical approaches to traditional legal texts and concepts

  • an ability to critically evaluate institutions of law in order to disclose institutional racism or other discriminatory practices

  • an ability to engage in critical practices informed by social justice and ethical concerns

  • critical analysis skills enabling them to effectively evaluate, synthesise and judge material

  • critical argumentation skills

  • an ability to work effectively with others