International Network for History and Policy


History, law and treaty-making with indigenous peoples in Australia


Joanna Cruickshank talks about the contribution she and fellow historians are making to the politically and legally complex process of treaty-making in Australia - an example of how history can support and contextualise contemporary policy processes:

Historically, indigenous law has usually not been recognised as such by the legal system that was established by the British colonists... a key part of the project and the element for which I am particularly responsible is the recovery of archival evidence of both indigenous law-holding, and of times and places where indigenous and Anglo-Australian law have met, whether onstructively or otherwise...
Our argument is that understanding treaty-making as a continuation of this history of lawful relations is not only historically accurate, but also highly constructive in that it focusses attention on the quality and nature of a relationship that a treaty might form, rather than simply delineating the rights and interests of the parties.

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H&P is an expanding Partnership based at King's College London and the University of Cambridge, and additionally supported by the University of Bristol, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, the Open University, and the University of Sheffield.

We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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