Protest, Land Rights and Riots: Postcolonial struggles in Australia in the 1980s

rights and riots cover

Barry Morris

Aug, 2013
Anthropology and Archaeology
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$39.95 RRP incl. GST


The 1970s saw the battle for Aboriginal people’s struggles for recognition of their postcolonial rights. Rural communities, where large Aboriginal populations lived, were in foment as a consequence of political, economic and major structural change, social fragmentation and unparalleled unemployment. The ensuing so-called riots, protests and law-and-order campaigns captured much of the tense relations that existed between Indigenous people, the police and the criminal justice system.

In Protest land rights and riots, Barry Morris shows how those policies, informed by neoliberalism, targeted those who were least integrated socially and culturally and who enjoyed fewer legitimate economic opportunities.

Amidst intense political debate, struggle and conflict, new forces were unleashed as a post-settler colonial state grappled with its past. Morris captures the contradictory forces and provides a social analysis of the ensuing political effects of neoliberal policy and the way it was subsequently undermined by an emerging new political orthodoxy in the 1990s.

Barry Morris is the author of Domesticating resistance, Race matters and Expert knowledge. He is a senior lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Newcastle.

Reviews and endorsements

'Morris deploys the incisive tools of anthropology to deconstruct the way neoliberal policies of the 1980s began to reverse the political gains Australian Aborigines had made in the 1970s…This work is of crucial relevance for thinking beyond the present neoliberal impasse.'

— Professor Gillian Cowlishaw

'Morris reveals the lie underpinning so much recent cant but more sets the situation of Aborigines in the context of larger global forces. This is a much overdue work that should contribute to new understanding and which breaks out of some of the enduring categories that continue to inhibit critical thought.'

— Professor Bruce Kapferer, University of Bergen

'Morris is not afraid to study  systemic interrelationships, how history brings together structure and events in ways that might be unique but not random.'

— Professor Andrew Lattas, University of Bergen

Last reviewed: 10 Jul 2020