Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Aboriginal Land Rights: Background information when reading Carpentaria

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Carpentaria

A Novel

by Alexis Wright

Carpentaria by Alexis Wright X
Carpentaria by Alexis Wright
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2009, 528 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2010, 528 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker
Buy This Book

About this Book

Aboriginal Land Rights

This article relates to Carpentaria

Print Review

aboriginal facesCarpentaria is essentially a novel about the clash of cultures, told from the perspective of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Just as the book illustrates, there is still debate in Australia about who can legitimately claim rights to the land - indigenous Australians, or descendants of the original European settlers. From the earliest contact with British settlers through the reeducation campaigns of the late twentieth century, the Aboriginal peoples have been effectively marginalized from democratic society.

As did many colonial regimes, the British colonizers of Australia viewed the land in their newly "discovered" country as belonging to no one, and thus open to appropriation. This in spite of aboriginal patrimonies that stretched back many thousands of years. After centuries of what amounts to legally sanctioned theft, the Australian government changed its laws to recognize a form of Aboriginal legal custom known as Native Title. The Native Title Act, adopted in 1993, stipulates that Australian common law recognize some forms of property rights established by Aboriginal custom, and so grants the first inhabitants of Australia some redress for their longstanding grievances.

Though it is surely no panacea for the dilemmas of ethnic politics in Australia, this recognition of indigenous land rights is a historic milestone. For centuries, Aboriginals have fought in various ways against the injustices of colonial occupation. More recently, many Aboriginals, including Alexis Wright, fought for the recognition of native rights to the land. The debate about Native Title is tied to larger problems of inequality, and in this sense the Native Title Act is the culmination of a broader struggle for Aboriginal rights.

A quintessential example of this larger struggle is the stockyard strike of 1946, which though principally about wages, forced the Australian government to nominally recognize Aboriginals as equal to their white counterparts. By the 1970s, Aboriginals had begun to pursue legal recognition of native lands that they and their communities had lived on for centuries, but that Australian law did not recognize as theirs. The Aboriginal Land Rights Act of 1976 was the first Australian law that allowed a claim of title based on traditional association with property. A number of other landmark cases before and after the Native Title Act have served as the legal forum for a major national debate on the nation's colonial past and the politics of race.

Key to Images

  • Men from Bathurst Island, 1939.

  • Ernie Dingo, actor and TV presenter originating from the Yamatji people of the Murchison region of Western Australia.

  • David Gulpilil, an Indigenous Australian traditional dancer and actor.

  • Jessica Mauboy, R&B and pop music singer, songwriter and actress; her father is from East Timor, her mother is an indigenous Australian.

Filed under Society and Politics

This "beyond the book article" relates to Carpentaria. It originally ran in May 2009 and has been updated for the April 2010 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Song of the Six Realms
    Song of the Six Realms
    by Judy I. Lin
    Xue'er has no place in the kingdom of Qi or any of the Six Realms. Her name means "Solitary Snow" ...
  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters of Shandong
    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung
    Daughters of Shandong is the debut novel of Eve J. Chung, a human rights lawyer living in New York. ...
  • Book Jacket: Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    by Xochitl Gonzalez
    Brooklyn-based novelist Xochitl Gonzalez is an inspiring writer to follow. At forty, she decided to ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Romantic Comedy
by Curtis Sittenfeld
A comedy writer's stance on love shifts when a pop star challenges her assumptions in this witty and touching novel.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stolen Child
    by Ann Hood

    An unlikely duo ventures through France and Italy to solve the mystery of a child’s fate.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.