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The Secularisation of Riverine Law in South-East Australia

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The decline of religious beliefs and practices in the south-east of Australia is often read as a ‘loss’ of cultural meaning and practice. In this paper, I look at the significance of secularisation for laws associated with land ownership, arguing that it is in the practice of law that one sees distinct continuities, rather than in the religious vehicles in which they were once packaged. This implies that we need to understand the operation of law in terms of its cultural and social intentions and effects, rather than as religiously-defined edicts. I then look at the implications of this for native title research.
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Keywords: Aboriginal people; Change; Law; Secularisation; Wiradjuri

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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