Historical reasoning about Indigenous imprisonment: A community of fate?


The high rate of Indigenous incarceration is a problem for public policy and therefore for historical and social analysis. This paper compares and contrasts two recent attempts at such analysis: Thalia Anthony’s ‘Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment’ (2013) and Don Weatherburn’s ‘Arresting Incarceration: Pathways Out of Indigenous Imprisonment’ (2014). This article identifies several differences and similarities in the authors’ perspectives and discusses: how they position themselves in relation to the values that shape Australian debate about punishment; their historical understanding of the institutions of ‘protection’ and of the impact of ‘assimilation’; whether the law and order apparatus is systemically biased against Indigenous Australians; and whether Indigenous Australians should be understood as a ‘community of fate’. (Abstract, edited)

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