Response to "Danse Macabre: Temporalities of Law in the Visual Arts" by Desmond Manderson
In responding to Dr. Desmond Manderson's book Danse Macabre Dr. Rachel Joy engages with his third chapter, Governor Arthur's Proclamation: Utopian Time. In deploying Governor Arthur's Proclamation to explore ideas of race, representation, law, time and space, Joy argues that Desmond Manderson offers an insightful methodology for making meaning of these historical and deeply political relationships. Today, as in the past, refusal to accept the settler occupation and the laws that belong with it
... hat belong with it means no access to protections under those laws. Joy call on the powerful truths offered by visual art, to show us that which remains hidden concerning race relations and notions of justice in Australia. Her response to Manderson moves back and forth between the historical frontier and the present day malevolence of 'the intervention' and the 'BasicsCard' to argue that the racist tropes that informed the violent dispossession of the First Peoples from their country were drawn from the same wellspring that spawned our legal system. As such it is perhaps not entirely surprising that a system devised by the invader in the interests of the settler requires a transaction of assimilation in return for the occupier's justice. Not only must Indigenous peoples assimilate to expect protection under the laws of a sovereign entity that dispossessed them of their country, they must effectively become refugees in their own lands. Should Aboriginal people wish to obtain the limited legal powers that native title law would afford them over their traditional lands, they must first give up their sovereignty and using the system of 'possessive logics' designed by the perpetrators of their dispossession, prove their claim. They must in effect be deterritorialised in order to be re-territorialised on the occupier's terms.