Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History by B. Attwood
Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 2005
Pages: 264. $35.00
The Invention of Terra Nullius: Historical and Legal Fictions on the Foundation of Australia by M. Connor
Macleay Press, 2005
Pages: 278. $39.95
Nowhere People: How International Race Thinking shaped Australia's Identity by H. Reynolds
Pages: 278. $29.95
Recognizing Aboriginal Title: The Mabo Case and Indigenous Resistance to English-Settler Colonialism by Peter H. Russell
University of Toronto Press, 2005
Pages: 470. US$65.00
||Australian Journal of Politics and History
|Date accepted online:
|Published in print:
||Volume 53, Issue 1, Pages 138-148
Myths, Truths and Arguments: Some Recent Writings on Aboriginal History
Bain Attwood and Henry Reynolds are two of Australia's best known practitioners of Aboriginal history, with the latter having a claim to being perhaps the nation's "most famous" living historian. Reynolds' Nowhere People, explores the influence of the ideology of the pseudo-science of race on Australia in a global context, while Attwood's Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History is a work of historiography written in both substantive and titular response to Keith Windschuttle's The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. Michael Connor, by contrast, is both a newcomer to Aboriginal history and a fan of Windschuttle, whose first book is the ultra-critical The Invention of Terra Nullius. While Connor, Attwood and Reynolds have been prominent figures on the parapets of what some call Australia's "History Wars", Peter Russell, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto and author of Recognizing Aboriginal Title, is rather more removed from the controversies. Nevertheless, Russell's work, in common with the others discussed in this review, still overtly displays both political and personal dimensions on the historical subject matter in question.
Throughout Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History, Attwood displays great confidence about the significance of history in Australian public life and to the population at large. According to Attwood, the "new Aboriginal history", developed between W.E.H. Stanner's Boyer Lectures in 1968 and Mabo in 1992, "unsettled" the cultural and political right "because it drew into question the moral basis of British colonisation in the past and so the Australian nation in the present". In particular, Attwood argues, it was "especially" the arrival of native title which engendered anxiety "largely because it was informed by a history that overturned the way in which conservatives had long imagined the space and time of their nation". Attwood argues that "very few, if any, settler Australians were disempowered" and that "none of the moves" that the Keating Government made, following Mabo were "radical" in relation to "their economic and social impact on settler Australians", whereas in contrast the "new history" "did have revolutionary consequences for settler Australia's culture and identity".  However, there are alternative interpretations including the possibility the "prospect of native title" created disquiet for the more mundanely economic reason that it had the potential to complicate the approvals processes in the resources sector.  Attwood's dismissal of the actual legal and fiscal impact of native title fails to take into account both the politics of perception in the immediate post-Mabo environment, when it was very widely argued that the case would be the ruin of the Australian economy, as well as the significant actual changes in corporate and government practice necessitated by the resulting legislation. The broader point might also be made that Attwood's use of the umbrella term "conservatives" does tend to mask a multiplicity of interests and commentators who opposed native title for varying reasons, rather than for the single overarching motive of perplexity about the "new history".
In the second part of Truth about Aboriginal History, Attwood convincingly argues that Windschuttle's work is fatally flawed because it "rests upon poor and faulty methods of historical scholarship". However, as Attwood points out, Windschuttle's work is extremely difficult to traduce through conventional forms of academic scrutiny because the latter "is not, despite the appearance he and his supporters have created in the mass media, a controversial scholar who has been posing sophisticated questions about the past which must be addressed".  Rather, the influence of Windschuttle's work depends "upon a public arena dominated by mass media in which surfaces are readily confused for substances and appearances are often mistaken for reality".  You can drive the metaphorical truck through Windschuttle's scholarship, but the chimera will continue to appear, projected by the false "conceit" that "everyone else is highly political" but Windschuttle remains aloof and objective.  Thus a distinguished and experienced historian of Aboriginal history can conclude, after lengthy deliberation, that "it is difficult to envisage how any research Windschuttle does in the future could play a significant part in deepening knowledge in the area of Aboriginal history", but those whom Attwood dubs "the Howard Intellectuals" merely need respond in the well-worn words of Mandy Rice-Davies, "well, he would, wouldn't he?". 
In Attwood's view "doing Aboriginal history is inescapably emotional"  and he argues that historians "usually have a transferential relationship to the past".  Attwood's observation is germane in light of Reynolds' work, which expressly melds the deeply personal with the long-historical. In Nowhere People, the historical thesis that Reynolds presents is that, by the start of the nineteenth century, a dominant intellectual consensus had emerged in the West that there was a hierarchy of distinct races of humanity, between whom "breeding" should be prevented. Where miscegenation did take place, "the hapless half-castes" who were born as a consequence, were reviled as "biologically dangerous" and "a threat to vital national interests". Nowhere People is a lively and accessible primer for anyone interested in the origins and consequences of racial thinking, particularly in an Australian context, but unfortunately, readability does to some extent come at the expense of density and complexity. Reynolds tends to deal with intellectual history a little airily, sometimes linking lengthy references to scholars (and pseudo-scholars) of the past across continents and decades with sparse contextualisation. What emerges is an account that seems both overly determined and sometimes reliant on uninterrogated generalisations (of which the most striking may be the claim, without any explanation, that "the Portuguese" are "the most racially tolerant of Europeans").' Nowhere People would have benefited from a greater and more nuanced contextualisation of racial thinking in the broader intellectual, cultural and political milieu. Reynolds' also largely does not engage with the existing and voluminous historiography about racial thinking and history, except in a short and eclectic "guide to further reading" provided at the end of the volume. 
The tone of Nowhere People tends toward the judgmental, delivering the clear moral that "we must never forget".
We should remember the 'nowhere people' - the half castes, the mulattoes and the mestizoes - who were derided and persecuted in many parts of the world, not for what they did or said, thought or believed, but simply for how they looked and who they were. 
Reynolds' entreaty to "remember" is given emotional weight by a personal and familial account contained in the prologue and postscript to Nowhere People, in which the author explores the possibility that his own paternal grandmother may have been a person of "mixed descent". Reynolds laments that, on what he metaphorically terms "the bridge of assimilation", in historical terms passage across "was often forced and almost always from the black side to the white", while in more "recent times, many of those removed - or their children - have passed back in the other direction".  However, "no one", Reynolds argues, stretching the metaphor, "has yet claimed the right to broaden the bridge itself and camp there".  If Reynolds' figure of speech is intended to mean that Australian public life does not easily allow people to lightly wear multiple ethnic identities; that would seem a contestable position. Even, for example, figures as iconic as Patrick Dodson and Ernie Dingo have participated in biographical works which to some extent explore the complexities of ethnic identity.  More broadly, one might suggest that the problem with Reynolds' "lesson", that racial pseudo-science is bad, is not that what he is teaching is wrong, but that it is largely devoid of contemporary pedagogic significance. Australian public discourse is now almost hegemonically anti-racist (indeed it is enshrined in legislation) and such de facto racial prejudice as surfaces from time to time is invariably couched in the language of culture rather than biological determinism.
Reynolds clearly (and in common with numerous other keen auto-genealogists around the world), finds significance in the possibility that he has some slight Aboriginal ancestry, feeling "an enhanced sense of belonging", "enriched by being able to trace [...] inheritance back both to the old world and to ancient Australia", as well as "completeness in places" which he was "unaware of being incomplete".  Rather startlingly, Reynolds even flirts with the idea that he became a scholar of Aboriginal history for "reasons that were hidden" from his "conscious mind", because "the heart has reasons which reason doesn't know". While Reynolds declares that his "sceptical spirit" draws him back, he nevertheless finds "intriguing" that his "first major book was The Other Side of the Frontier, which attempted to relate the history of Australia from an Aboriginal point of view", and further that his sister "began to paint Aboriginal motifs on paper and fabric in her late teens as though it was natural to her".  Ultimately, Reynolds does not know what to do:
you are damned if you identify and damned if you don't. Such identification has become common, almost fashionable. It should not be lightly undertaken. But avoid identification and others will see it as an exercise in denial, a continuation of an earlier ancestral renunciation. We can be seen, I suppose, as part of what historian Peter Read called 'the lost generations'. 
What is not clear is by whom Reynolds expects to be damned. The central irony, of course, is that for all Reynold's abhorrence of essentialist racial thinking, he seems implicitly to see "blood" as being of such significance that he entertains the possibility that race has played a determinative role in deciding his own politics and profession, not to mention his sibling's artistic inclinations. A book which is all about exposing the tyrannical implications of biological racial determinism ends with something of an affirmation of the ongoing redolence of the idea, at least when the author applies it to himself. Happily, in 2006 in Australia we can, in a civic sense, all ethnically identify in the manner of our own choosing, within the generous bounds of reasonableness (no Demidenkos, thanks), in what is for the most part by any sensible historical measure (and Cronulla notwithstanding) a tolerant and pluralistic society. Reynolds is free to identify as he likes; but "racial mix" in a biologically determinative sense is as useless as a guide to explaining his predispositions as it was to the "half-castes" who are the historical subject of Nowhere People.
Reynolds, as a friend to Eddie Mabo, features as an historical actor in Peter Russell's Recognising Aboriginal Title. While it is extensive in scope, Russell's thick book is conceptually uncomplicated as he "interweaves two narratives", namely the "stories" of "Eddie Mabo" and "of imperialism, colonization, and the efforts of Indigenous peoples in the contemporary period to get out from under the colonialism imposed on them by the English settler-democracies".  In twelve carefully structured chapters, the author swings between world-historical events, broader Australian history and the detail of the Mabo litigation, with the consequence that the eventual victory before the High Court is rendered in a rather Hegelian way, with Eddie Mabo the Volksgeist grasping the Weltgeist. Russell mythologises Mabo as "the islander legal warrior" who was "gird" for a "great battle", possessed of both "artistic inclinations" and "political temperament",  to whom it fell to "provide the personal energy and to articulate the vision [...]".  The recorded utterances of Russell's great man Mabo are rendered rather breathlessly and credulously, so the statement:
This is a new era for us. We are struggling 200 years after the initial invasion, fighting the white man's law makers in their own legal game where our fathers and our ancestors before us were not able to do
becomes an example of "Mabo's political genius to recognise that the decolonization struggle of Indigenous peoples had entered a new era".  Russell also sees elements of the sacred in Mabo's life: the exile who suffers a martyr's death is redeemed and so is finally able to return to his spiritual home on the island of Mer.  Russell's near hagiography of Mabo even extends to euphemising (and implicitly exculpating) the latter's sometime propensity to domestic violence as a sign of the commitment of the activist. According to Russell, Mabo "was never one to back away from a tough political battle" and "sometimes, as Netta lovingly relates, he brought this anger home with him". 
Russell's thesis is simplistic, rendering a teleological course of Aboriginal "resistance", which may have been adaptive to the political modes of the colonisers, but has nonetheless enjoyed much historical consistency and coherency. The straightforward argument contained in Recognizing Aboriginal Title is supported by what are, at times, some rather unquestioning assertions. It is not true to say, for example, that in the fifties and sixties land rights were necessarily "central to the autonomy part of the aboriginal agenda".  The evidence is rather more ambiguous than Russell allows, not least because the expression "land rights" is hardly self-evident in meaning and has its own historicity.  Seeing all Aboriginal behaviour through the glass of "resistance" also creates problems. Russell claims, for example, that drunkenness is "the most common form" of passive resisting, "personal and unorganized in form, but political in spirit",  while at the Sydney Olympics, Indigenous "athletes and performers, led by the magnificent sprinter Cathy Freeman [...] temporarily set aside their people's struggle for recognition and respect so the country they share with all Australians could secure international respect",  overlooking both more simple and more complex characterisations of the behaviour in question in each case.
The grain that Russell is seeking to write against is probably best identified as legalism, the idea that the law is a self-contained body of logic that may be positively determined. In an effort to strip Western jural systems of their legitimating authority Russell adopts the rhetorical technique of describing the mechanics of the law as "legal magic".  However, Russell's approach to understanding law has analytical shortcomings and leaves his account floundering in a shallow metaphor. Law, unlike "magic", purports to be predicated on a system of logic. Radical analysis of law is effective not by dismissing legal reasoning as mere hocus pocus, but through subjecting the procedural and substantive detail to critical scrutiny. Thus describing Justice Blackburn as "a firm believer in the overriding power of legal magic" does nothing to explain why the pivotal case of Milirrpum v Nabalco was lost by the applicants,  while dismissing the non-justiciability of sovereignty as "a nice piece of legal magic!" which disempowers indigenes, is not only glib but overlooks the emancipative significance of the separation of powers and the devolved authority of the state.  Russell's insistence on the arbitrariness of law leads him to declare that it was the "elitist traditions of the Australian bar" which required "retaining a Queen's Council" [sic] in Mabo, rather than the far more obvious explanation that the ranks of the senior counsel comprise the best and most experienced advocates. 
The misspelling of Australia's highest form of advocate is just one of a litany of minor errors of fact and expression to be found in Recognizing Aboriginal Title. Russell describes Queensland as "the only state that had not given some legislative recognition to Aboriginal land rights", but a little over a hundred pages later Western Australia is named as "the only state on the Australian continent that and not enacted some kind of aboriginal land rights legislation".  The Indigenous traditional owners of the Noonkanbah station are not the "Noonkanbah people".  Notices of future acts under the Native Title Act are not issued "from the mining industry".  The assertion that "[i]n 2000 the Bangarra people in the Kimberley region of Western Australia secured a consent determination to 15,000 square kilometres - by far the largest recognition of native title to date" is wholly wrong in every respect.  On other occasions, the mistakes may simply be typographical, but are still jarring,  culminating in one page of the bibliography on which a quarter of the surnames of the listed authors are misspelled. 
While Recognizing Aboriginal Title does not set out a positive future program per se, Russell is often concerned with the future of Indigenous affairs in Australia, which leads him to questions of political formation. As Russell correctly observes, "aboriginal identity" is of much more than "theoretical interest" when politics and law-making are at stake.  Both Russell and Attwood seem to have in common a kind of essentialised division between what the latter describes as "Aboriginal and settler peoples".  One response from some voices within the cultural left may be simply to regard the question of who is "Aboriginal" as ideologically inappropriate; just another exercise in seeking to "make" or "define" the "other". Attwood warns, for example, of the danger that "settler" historians will "repeat some of the very processes that are active in our object of historical inquiry".  However, if the purpose of history (or political science) is to explain, within the acknowledged hermeneutical limits of each discipline, what has happened and why, then it is not unfair to problematise the category "Aboriginal". Further, where a discussion concerns law or policy in relation to "Aboriginal people", determining the criteria of "Aboriginality" is fundamental to any estimation of the utility and purpose of the measure in question. Indeed, the critical point may be not so much who is "Aboriginal", but the implication that one political or legal size might fit the multiplicity of socio-cultural circumstances experienced by individual people who regard themselves, or are regarded, as being "Indigenous".
Russell, it seems, does not have a great grasp on even the rudiments of how "traditional" Aboriginal societies function and ironically, given the politically progressive inclination of his work, seems somewhat dismissive of the efficacy of tribal structures.  In Russell's view, determining the "communal, ethnic identity" of Aboriginal people is "a practical question of political reform", because it is "the principle of self-determination for peoples that finally provides the normative basis for decolonisation". In other words, Russell argues, it is "essential" for "Indigenous peoples who are to self-determine their future to identify their operative political communities".  Significantly, Russell contemplates a process of "making" Indigenous political units, rather than suggesting a new configuration for the relationship between existing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal polities. According to Russell, as Indigenous people "begin to make progress in advancing their cause, it becomes important for them to identify the communities that are to enjoy and exercise the collective political rights they ask the dominant society to recognise".  Russell, then, supports the making of Aboriginal (proto) nations (he actually uses the expression "Aboriginal nationalism" on one occasion)  as a precondition to the enjoyment of collective political rights and liberties. However, if existing social and political rules do not exist to give guidance on who is to be a member of the new Indigenous polities which must be "made", then how should membership of the unit be determined?
Although Russell declares the opposite, it seems intrinsic to his argument that he idealises a form of Indigenous proto-nationalism based on biological determinism.  Russell argues that "[t]he Aboriginal claim for recognition of special status as the country's 'first peoples' - as historic and ancient peoples - prompts some, on both sides of the struggle, to regard only what is authentically, entirely, and uniquely Aboriginal as a valid claim".  Putting to one side Russell's vulgar rendering of complex debates, his analysis might seem to imply that he regards what makes a person "Aboriginal" as nothing more than being able to trace some genetic descent; a possible inference which seems even stronger if the alternative interpretations are considered. If it is accepted that being "Aboriginal" is merely a matter of personal identification, with no attendant legal, economic or political implications, then no representative polity is required. Ethnic identification only requires a representative collective where there is a communal agenda. On the other hand, if being "Aboriginal" turns on whether one observes a set of social rules with operative sanctions, then Indigenous polities are already in existence and do not need to be "made". Deconstructed, Russell's vision of the post-colonial enterprise in Australia may be no more than old-fashioned biologically deterministic nationalism; uniting the "historic and ancient" Aboriginal peoples under new polities defined by the common element of race. Thus, Russell exalts that, "following the Mabo decision, the descendants of [...] Indigenous Tasmanians, numbering some 8,000, are able to reclaim their association with lands they never surrendered":  an organic and imperishable unity of "blood" and "soil".
Attwood rightly observes that historical narratives are vital to nations because the latter "are neither ancient nor eternal, but historically novel; they are invented where they once did not exist".  In Attwood's terms then, Russell might be said to be calling for the "invention" of Aboriginal nations. However, Attwood himself is not averse to the deployment of history in the project of constructing imagined community, arguing that "national pride" cannot be built by "deliberate denial of the past" and calling for the use of historical scholarship "to help realise a better future". Attwood argues that "social, economic, cultural and political mechanisms" should be introduced to "enable individuals and communities" to assist "the Australian nation state and its peoples address or work through the burden of the Aboriginal past".  Quite in keeping with the "Howard Intellectuals" in one sense, it seems that Attwood too, conceives of history in the service of the nation; he just adopts a different conception of the good society. Attwood claims that "telling the truth about Aboriginal history can actually help us pinpoint just what was good in the past, the conditions that enabled this good to be achieved, and the lessons this has for us today".  In Attwood's mind, justice can be done, in part through embracing historiographical and pedagogical pluralism and via the construction of appropriate memorials,  but also through constitutional reform, which "might provide a way of working through the Australian impasse in mutually advantageous ways by laying down a broad framework of principles that would govern the relationship between Aboriginal and settler peoples".  The "solution" propounded by Attwood then, would seem to be a form of "communicative history", which involves arriving at and acting on historically grounded norms on which all participants can agree. 
However, while ostensibly politically progressive, Attwood's assumption that the road to the future necessarily runs through the prolonged disasters of the past also involves some implicitly atavistic ideas.  One might wonder, for example, whether history should really be a matter of reaching political agreement between parties and that if such "consensus" was reached, whose interests actually be reflected, particularly given that any such settlement will inevitably have to be bland enough to be broadly acceptable.  The mechanics of Attwood's forward thinking would also seem to involve an assumption that "race" is determinant of cultural and political identity. In Truth about Aboriginal History, Attwood repeatedly refers to the distinction between "Aboriginal and settler peoples". However, the disarming concept of "settler Australians" entails a political and intellectual sleight of hand: who are these settler Australians? Does being a "settler Australian" simply mean that you do not have any "Aboriginal blood"? Is it really meaningful to describe as "settler Australians" a population, the vast majority of which have no experience of engaging in the historical process of "settling" or "the frontier"? Perhaps the term "settler Australian" is intended to connote the idea that colonisation is an ongoing process in which all who are not "Aboriginal Australians" are complicit, presumably in order to illuminate "the ongoing presence of different pasts", but it might be argued that vocabulary which conflates historical actors in the eighteenth century with those in the twenty-first can also act to distort and flatten, obscuring historical change. 
Michael Connor, the final author considered here, is deeply at odds with the arguments of Attwood and Russell in a philosophical sense, damning "the rejection of terra nullius" in Mabo as "a battle we didn't have to have". The accepted short-hand description of the reasoning in the Mabo case is that the High Court "rejected" the application of the doctrine of terra nullius (more or less meaning "land belonging to nobody") to Australia, in order to recognise the existence of native title. However, Connor's argument is that the doctrine of terra nullius had, in historical terms, never been invoked to justify the colonisation of Australia, but rather was "invented" to support "the politics, and the careers of a middle class, careerist, intellectual elite". The Invention of Terra Nullius is an inquiry into the origins and academic, jural and political use of that single Latin phrase, but written in a tone that Attwood has characterised as typical of the "Howard Intellectuals": "aggressive and confrontational", seeking to "declaim and denounce with enormous gusto", treating intellectual opponents as "enemies rather than adversaries" and showing "little, if any, respect for the rules of civility that have traditionally governed much public discourse in Australia".  Many of Attwood's other well-made criticisms of Windschuttle are also readily transferable to Connor, but the similarity is no coincidence: The Invention of Terra Nullius was published by Windschuttle's publishing house, Macleay Press and the author feels a sense of great debt to his publisher. 
Manners and temper aside, there are a series of fundamental problems with Connor's work. First, although the prominence of terra nullius in Mabo is indeed curious, the true marginality of the phrase has been well known in academic circles for more than a decade. The question Connor asks was both asked and answered in the mid-nineties.  As Connor acknowledges, Richard Bartlett, for instance, described terra nullius as "essentially irrelevant to native title at common law" in an introduction to the Australian Law Reports special print of the Mabo case published in 1993 and the point is now widely accepted. Russell, for example, had no difficulty in his book in recognizing that the "denial of Aboriginal peoples' common law land rights in Australia" did not derive from any "discourse of law".  Nevertheless, academics (including Russell) continue to use the expression "terra nullius", no doubt for the simple reason that it is a useful shorthand metaphor for what actually occurred. The unarguable historical reality of the colonization of Australia was that Indigenous people were treated as being without legally enforceable property rights derived from traditional law and custom. The High Court, in acknowledging the application of the common law doctrine of native title to Australia, rejected the notion that traditional property rights based on pre-colonisation Indigenous legal systems should continue to be ignored. Thus, as a matter of convenience and without any controversy, the Court might indeed be said to have rejected the conception of Australia in 1788 as a land belonging to no-one.
The other basic problem with Connor's work is that he mistakenly thinks that the High Court's use of terra nullius "reaches into and corrupts all else" in the decision, which it very clearly does not.  Here, Connor is partly joined by Russell, who insists that Mabo marked a break with legalism, "so stark were the precedents against the rights the plaintiffs claimed".  According to Russell, the High Court had to turn their back on the "high priests of strict legal positivism" by "succumbing to earthly influences".  The claims of both Connor and Russell are at best arguable. Perhaps a better interpretation is that the recognition of native title under the common law of Australia by the High Court is good law and amply supported by relevant precedent, regardless of the ambiguous references to terra nullius. Prior to Mabo, the High Court had simply never been asked to decide whether Australian law incorporated any principle of native title and, in the absence of binding domestic authority, looked at cases from other relevant jurisdictions, including Canada, New Zealand and the United States, all of which made the position clear. Thus in strictly legalistic terms, before Mabo was decided, the common law (broadly defined) already included the doctrine of native title. The Mabo case was no more than the cautious application of principle accepted throughout the rest of the common law world and, as such, was both proper and conservative.  Inexplicably, Connor does not even mention the precedents from elsewhere in the world that confirmed the existence of a doctrine of native title at common law prior to Mabo. Ironically then, in assuming that the rejection of terra nullius played a decisive role in Mabo, Connor actually replicates some of the logic of those whom he is seeking to condemn.
The four reviewed works make abundantly clear that the controversies associated with the connection of Aboriginal history to contemporary politics seem unlikely to abate in the near future. It is of course only possible to see history from the multiple standpoints of the present (always in dialogue with understandings of the past), but expressly to link historical research to arguments for specific political programs is perhaps rather a different matter. Maybe it is time for a concerted effort to "denationalise" the project, because while historians of right and left continue to interpret Aboriginal history through the glass of what is or is not good for the Australian nation in the here-and-now, the historiography seems likely to continue to be contested in ways that at best tend to the policy-centred and at worst to the vicious or unscholarly. It is possible to write about "Aboriginal history" in ways that seek to problematise the past without explicitly engaging in contests over the preferred species of Australian nationalism or political and jural formations in the present. After all, until 1901, there were no "Australians".
Truth about Aboriginal History, pp. 14, 191.
Ibid., p. 30.
Attwood's italics. Ibid., p. 32.
Ibid., p. 29.
Attwood's italics. Ibid., p. 29.
See for example A. Lavelle, "The Mining Industry's Campaign Against Native Title: Some Explanations", Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 36, 1 (2001), 101-22, and G. Cowlishaw, "Did the Earth Move for You? The anti-Mabo debate", Australian Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 6 (August, 1995).
Truth about Aboriginal History, p. 152.
Ibid., p. 80.
Ibid., p. 84.
Ibid., pp. 60-1.
Ibid., p. 168. Attwood was responding to an earlier remark by Reynolds in which the latter suggested that doing Aboriginal history was "inescapably political".
Ibid., p. 181.
Nowhere People, p. 5.
Ibid., p. 3.
It has been noted of Reynolds in the past that he can show a tendency not to engage with existing historiography: see A. Curthoys, "Rewriting Australian History: Including Aboriginal History", Arena, Vol. 62 (1983), pp. 96-110, p. 103. See also P. Cochrane, "Hunting not Travelling", Eureka Street, October 1998, pp. 32-40, p. 37.
Nowhere People, p. 241.
Ibid., p. 239.
Ibid., p. 239.
S. Dingo, Dingo: The Story of Our Mob (Sydney, 1998), and K. Keeffe, Paddys Road: Life Stories of Patrick Dodson (Canberra, 2003).
Nowhere People, pp. 237-8.
Ibid., p. 239.
Ibid., p. 237.
Recognizing Aboriginal Title, p. 10.
Ibid., p. 60.
Ibid., p. 193.
Ibid., p. 60.
Ibid., pp. 58-60.
Ibid., p. 54.
Ibid., pp. 150 and 156.
The emergence of the land rights campaigns of the sixties have been elsewhere persuasively characterised as a fluctuating process marked by "[i]ndecision, hesitancy and instability": Sue Taffe, Black and White Together. FCAATSI: The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders 1958-1973 (Brisbane, 2005), p.165.
Recognizing Aboriginal Title, p. 132.
Ibid., p. 357.
Ibid., Ch 2 and passim.
Ibid., p. 64.
Ibid., p. 32.
Ibid., p. 201.
Ibid., pp. 188 and 297.
Ibid., p. 185. See for example P. Vincent, "Noonkanbah" in N. Peterson and M. Langton, Aborigines, Land and Land Rights (Canberra, 1983), p. 327.
Recognizing Aboriginal Title, p. 364.
Ibid., p. 367. There was no native title determination by that description in 2000 (or for that matter in the year before or afterward). The only consent determination in Western Australia in 2000 was on behalf of the "Spinifex People", was located in the central desert and covered 54,315 square kilometers.
See for example: "matter" should be "manner"; "no agreed"; "abandoning"; "Bob Riley" not "Rob Riley"; "Merriam" and "been to able" at pp 101, 205, 269, 290, 364 and 366, respectively.
Neate, Olbrei and O'Faircheallaigh: Recognizing Aboriginal Title, p. 437.
Recognizing Aboriginal Title, p. 136.
Australian law has a test for Aboriginality (which is necessary because of the differential rights enjoyed by Aboriginal people under, for example, the doctrine of native title) but one can presume that neither Attwood nor Russell can be assumed to be applying the legal definition for their respective analytical purposes.
Truth about Aboriginal History, p. 181.
See for example Recognizing Aboriginal Title, pp. 136-7, 224 and 373.
Recognizing Aboriginal Title, p. 136.
Ibid., p. 137.
Ibid., p. 136.
Ibid., p. 189.
Ibid., p. 123-4.
Ibid., p. 136.
Ibid., p. 81. As an aside, this claim is almost certainly inaccurate as a matter of both fact and law. It has always seemed deeply unlikely that any native title claim would succeed at any level in Tasmania.
Truth about Aboriginal History, p. 13.
Ibid., p. 196.
Ibid., p. 184.
Ibid., p. 196.
Ibid., pp.181-90 and 195.
J. Torpey, "'Making Whole What has Been Smashed': Reflections on Reparations", Journal of Modern History, Vol. 73, 2 (June 2001), pp. 333-58, pp. 349-50.
Ibid., p. 337.
Ibid., p. 349-50.
Truth about Aboriginal History, p. 190.
Invention of Terra Nullius, p. 2. My analysis of Connor's work here inevitably draws on an earlier review at D. Ritter, "Much ado about Nullius", Australian Financial Review, Friday, 16 December 2005, p. 48.
Invention of Terra Nullius, p. 7.
Truth about Aboriginal History, p. 63.
Invention of Terra Nullius, p. 1-6.
My own efforts in this respect may be found at D. Ritter, "The Rejection of Terra Nullius in Mabo: A Critical Analysis", Sydney Law Review, Vol. 18, 1 (1996), p. 5. Connor's treatment of that article can be found at Invention of Terra Nullius, pp. 226-8.
Recognizing Aboriginal Title, p. 8.
Invention of Terra Nullius, p. 202.
Recognizing Aboriginal Title, p. 197.
Ibid., p. 197.
See for example R.H. Bartlett, "Mabo: Another Triumph for the Common Law", Sydney Law Review, Vol. 15, 2 (1993), p. 178; G. Nettheim, "Judicial Revolution or Cautious Correction?", UNSW Law Journal, Vol. 16, 1 (1993); S. Churches, "Mabo: A Flexible Sinew of the Common Law", Brief , Vol. 20, 8 (1993), and M. Kirby, "In Defence of Mabo" in M. Goot and T. Rowse, eds, Make a Better Offer: The Politics of Mabo (Leichardt, NSW, 1994).