An anthropologist's perspective on criminal justice in North Queensland

Foale, Simon (2018) An anthropologist's perspective on criminal justice in North Queensland. James Cook University Law Review, 24. pp. 223-229.

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The vastly over-representative incarceration rates of indigenous adults and youth in Australia (especially in the North) are underpinned by ongoing profound cultural tensions which in turn drive economic marginalisation of indigenous populations. This paper outlines some explanatory frameworks that may help the law and justice community better understand how cultural difference (particularly with regard to economic personhood) and economic inequality drive criminalisation of indigenous people in North Queensland. The concept of the Possessive Individual is central to normative capitalist behaviour but is a mode of economic personhood alien to indigenous Australians. While I do not have case material to offer from Australia, I provide salient illustrations from neighbouring Melanesian cultures, which are similar in many respects. The economic marginalisation that ensues from cultural incompatibility with the dominant settler capitalist population exacerbates inequality, which is now empirically linked with a range of social problems, including mental illness, substance abuse, depression, suicide, violence and other conditions that are strongly correlated with criminality. I argue that greater cultural and social scientific literacy among the North Queensland law and justice community regarding these particular issues could greatly improve engagements with the indigenous community and ultimately reduce their representation within the custodial system.

Item ID: 57722
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1839-2792
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Copyright Information: © The Author(s).
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2019 23:16
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4401 Anthropology > 440107 Social and cultural anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940408 Rehabilitation and Correctional Services @ 100%
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