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Connection to Land and Sea at Erub, Torres Strait

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Scott, Colin; Mulrennan, Monica
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1844
Sector: Fisheries
Land Tenure & Use
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Pacific and Australia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--case studies
property rights
customary law
land tenure and use
water resources
Abstract: "In this paper we examine the relationship of indigenous, ethnological, and legal discourses in the definition of rights to land and sea among Torres Strait Islanders in northern Australia. In Australia, to a greater extent than in Canada or in any other settler state, the rules and customs of indigenous tenure systems are legally regarded as the source and test for state recognition of native title. The native claims process routinely depends on a combination of indigenous and anthropological documentation and testimony to formulate jurisprudence on the validity of claims. Hence, a three-cornered discourse - indigenous, ethnological, and legal - is shaping the emergent realities of property, boundaries, and territories in contemporary Australia. "Our presentation takes us first through a consideration of general perspectives that have been applied in recent years to understanding the connection of people -- and peoples -- to their lands and seas. Next, we turn to a brief ethnography of customary tenure at Erub (Darnley Island), in the East Torres Strait, and some aspects of the colonial legacy. Finally, we discuss the post-Mabo legal-political setting and consider the interaction of state 'law' and islander 'custom'."

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