The sovereign citizen superconspiracy: Contemporary issues in native title anthropology

Taplin, Pascale, Holland, Claire, and Billing, Lorelei (2023) The sovereign citizen superconspiracy: Contemporary issues in native title anthropology. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 34 (2). pp. 110-129.

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The Australian Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) provides for the recognition of rights and interests which arise from the traditional laws and customs of Australian First Nation peoples. Processing applications for a determination of native title can take many years and involves numerous stakeholders, presentation of evidence of ongoing connection with the land and sea within a claim area, negotiations with other parties including from industry and government, as well as negotiations between Indigenous groups. The process can be long, arduous, and often outcomes fail to satisfy the expectations of native title claimants. In this paper we investigate how individuals who either disagree with the premise underlying native title, or who have suffered negative impacts through the course of native title claims, may be either targeted by, or swept up in, Australian sovereign citizen rhetoric. We aim to contextualise presentations of sovereign citizen ideas in native title claim processes by providing an overview of the history of sovereign citizen thought, and examples of its contemporary expression in some Australian online forums. In doing this we aim to provide a broad foundation for future research into the issue. The dialogue in sovereign citizen online communities exposes people to extremism and superconspiracies. This article will provide a theoretical framework and historical context to the Australian sovereign citizen phenomena and describe online amplification of disinformation in Australia that has the potential to cause harm. We illustrate how stakeholders who are drawn to relatively moderate online content (such as opposing native title) may be radicalised through gradual exposure to extremist anti-government sentiment and hate speech. This article highlights the need for further research into sovereign citizenry in Australia, and strategies for native title practitioners to engage claimants who subscribe to and disseminate sovereign citizen disinformation in native title processes.

Item ID: 80362
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1757-6547
Keywords: conspiracy theory, native title, sovereign citizen, superconspiracy, worldview
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Authors. The Australian Journal of Anthropology published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australian Anthropological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2024 02:13
FoR Codes: 48 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 4899 Other law and legal studies > 489999 Other law and legal studies not elsewhere classified @ 50%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4401 Anthropology > 440199 Anthropology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1399 Other culture and society > 139999 Other culture and society not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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