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Constitutional Recognition

Constitutional Recognition

First Peoples and the Australian Settler State

By Dylan Lino


Cover image: Clinton Nain, Crowned Target, 2006, acrylic and bitumen on canvas, 152 x 122 cm

When Australians today debate what is owed to the continent’s First Peoples for achieving a just postcolonial relationship, they typically do so using the language of ‘constitutional recognition’. The idea of constitutionally recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has become the subject of community forums and nationwide inquiries, street protests and prime ministerial speeches. With all Australian State constitutions now incorporating ‘Indigenous recognition’ sections, national reforms on Indigenous recognition beckon.

This book provides the first comprehensive study of Indigenous constitutional recognition in Australia. Offering more than a legal analysis, the book puts the idea of constitutional recognition into broader historical and theoretical perspective. After telling a wide-ranging history of Australian debates on Indigenous recognition, the book develops a theoretical account that sees constitutional recognition in terms of Indigenous peoples’ struggles to have their identities respected within the settler constitutional order. When studied through Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary struggles for recognition as citizens and peoples, constitutional recognition emerges not as a postcolonial endpoint but as an ongoing process of renegotiating the basic Indigenous–settler political relationship. With First Peoples continuing to press for the recognition of their sovereignty and peoplehood, the future of their relationship with the Australian state is best captured in the ideal of federalism.

As debates over Indigenous recognition develop in coming years, this book will be a definitive reference point for scholars, activists, policy-makers and the informed public.

**Dr Dylan Lino, Constitutional Recognition of Australia's Indigenous People: Law, History and Politics (original title), was the winner of the Holt Prize 2017.


About the Author

1.  Introduction

2. The Constitutional Politics of Indigenous Recognition in Australia, 1979–2018

3.  Conceptualising Constitutional Recognition

4.  Constitutionalising Indigenous Recognition

5.  The Incompleteness of Indigenous Constitutional Recognition: Learning from 1967

6.  Indigenous Constitutional Recognition and Racial Discrimination: Learning from 1975

7.  Constitutionally Recognising Indigenous Peoplehood: Towards Indigenous–Settler Federalism

8.  Conclusion




Publishing 31 August 2018
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760021818
Australian RRP $49.95
International Price $45.00
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Law - Constitutional
Law - Indigenous
Indigenous Studies

Holt Prize

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