ONE LAW FOR ALL? ABORIGINAL PEOPLE AND CRIMINAL LAW IN EARLY SOUTH AUSTRALIA

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In the planned colony of South Australia, Aboriginal people were to be British subjects, accountable to English law, but fully entitled to its protection. However, the dreams of London’s reformers rapidly soured as British law struggled to protect th...

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ONE LAW FOR ALL? ABORIGINAL PEOPLE AND CRIMINAL LAW IN EARLY SOUTH AUSTRALIA

In the planned colony of South Australia, Aboriginal people were to be British subjects, accountable to English law, but fully entitled to its protection. However, the dreams of London’s reformers rapidly soured as British law struggled to protect the settlers’ interests and failed to protect Aboriginal lives and birthrights.

This is the first study of the stories behind the court appearances. It reveals the people who developed relationships across the racial divide: Aboriginal people confused about why they were facing a magistrate and deciding whether to resist the invaders or move quietly into their society; colonists struggling to keep their pastoral enterprises going, and finding there was more to the story than they thought; officials working with inadequate resources and lawyers mounting arguments to keep their Aboriginal clients out of gaol; and, a Chief Justice trying to apply English law to Indigenous citizens.

Using rarely discussed documents, Pope reveals how the complexities played out and where, despite the rhetoric, Aboriginal people were treated poorly.

Alan Pope’s previous book is Resistance and Retaliation. After a career in education, including time as a teacher and curriculum writer, Alan Pope now manages an Australian training program for Iraqi public servants.

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