Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment (Hardback) book cover

Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment

By Thalia Anthony

© 2013 – Routledge

248 pages

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Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment examines criminal sentencing courts’ changing characterisations of Indigenous peoples’ identity, culture and postcolonial status. Focusing largely on Australian Indigenous peoples, but drawing also on the Canadian experiences, Thalia Anthony critically analyses how the judiciary have interpreted Indigenous difference. Through an analysis of Indigenous sentencing remarks over a fifty year period in a number of jurisdictions, the book demonstrates how judicial discretion is moulded to dominant white assumptions about Indigeneity. More specifically, Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment shows how the increasing demonisation of Indigenous criminality and culture in sentencing has turned earlier ‘gains’ in the legal recognition of Indigenous peoples on their head. The recognition of Indigenous difference is thereby revealed as a pliable concept that is just as likely to remove concessions as it is to grant them. Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment suggests that Indigenous justice requires a two-way recognition process where Indigenous people and legal systems are afforded greater control in sentencing, dispute resolution and Indigenous healing.


In short, Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment makes an important contribution to postcolonial criminology by situating the criminalization and punishment of indigenous peoples in the colonial process of nation-building, but also in contemporary settler state–indigenous relations. I would add that this book advances scholarly discussions of punitiveness through its consideration of postcolonial relations in shifting penal culture and practices, the latter of which is a subject of much theoretical debate. - Sarah Turnbull, University of Oxford, UK, for Theoretical Criminology

The depth of analysis in this work is impressive. The author has taken what may be described as the "long view" to her subject. That is, she has not been content to rely on the more formal aspects of the criminal justice system represented by statutes and case law (although that is covered), but to frame, and restore, the issue of Indigenous crime and punishment back to its original source: the dispossession and colonisation of Indigenous communities. - Richard Edney, Barrister, for Law Institute Journal, April 2014

This book is thoroughly researched, philosophically engaging, well written and compellingly argued. I can thoroughly recommend it as a worthwhile read to anyone interested in criminal-justice and social-justice issues. The book is written in an interdisciplinary style, and described by Thalia Anthony as a form of post-colonial criminology, thus while she is a law academic the book certainly deserves a broader readership than those in the discipline of law. - Shelley Bielefeld, University of Western Sydney, for Law and Indigeneity (2014)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Re-imagining the Indigenous criminal; Chapter One: Introduction to Indigenous Representations In Criminal Sentencing; Chapter two: Historicisng Colonial and Postcolonial Indigenous Crime and Punishment; Chapter three: Decolonizing Indineous Crime Statistics; Chapter Four: Sentencing away culture and customary marriage; Chapter Five: Traditional Punishment in the New Punitiveness; Chapter Six: Sentencing anxieties over ' Degenerates, Drunks and Criminals'; Chapter Seven: Sentencing Indigenous resisters as if the racism never occurred;Conclusion/Epilogue: Transforming Indigenous Recongnition

About the Author

Thalia Anthony is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Her research specialises in criminal justice, Indigenous legal issues and the laws of colonisation. She has published widely on legal remedies for Indigenous people in Australia and internationally, as well as extra-legal alternative avenues for justice. Thalia’s methodology combines analysis of the legal archive with fieldwork in Northern Territory Indigenous communities.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / Criminal Law / Sentencing
LAW / Indigenous Peoples
LAW / Judicial Power
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology