Traditional land tenure and early European land acquisitions : the clash between primitive and Western law in New Guinea [article]

Peter Georg Sack, University, The Australian National, University, The Australian National
The following study deals with·the acquisition of land by Europeans in the area which today forms the Trust Territory of Nev Guinea. It covers the period from the beginning of European settlement in the 18708 to the outbreak of the First World War, when after about thirty years the administrative control over this area passed from German into Australian hands. In modern Western societies the acquisition of land is essentially a legal matter. There are laws which determine under which
more » ... es an acquisition of rights to land is legally valid, and if there is a dispute about the validity of a particular acquisition, there are courts of law which can make a final decision which is then backed by the authority of the state. A study dealing with the acquisition of land can thus concentrate on analyzing the existing system of land law, taking the rule of law for granted. In a colony the situation is different. Behind the facade of colonial law, a study of legal problems revolves around the question whether and to what extent this colony is ruled by law. An examination of the 'establishing of law and order' must form an integral part of each legal study ~ or it could be realized afterwards that it has been an exercise in shadow-boxing, because the problems discussed were legal only in theory but not in colonial practice. Moreover, the 'establishing of law and order' has proved to be much more complex than the optimistic colonial officials, who invented this phrase, ever imagined. In New Guinea it is, even today, by no means completed, The present land acquisitions by Europeans are still not regarded as an essentially legal matter, There are still two separate systems of law for natives and Europeans which are, at least in practice, not held together by a set of conflict norms, but by a aeries of political compromises which are far from being final. Although the land acquisitions with which it deals were made according to the colonial lav more than fifty years ago, the following study does not deal with dead histor [...]
doi:10.25911/5d778467f24a6 fatcat:cfzkbylnvvgb7eeza6e6aolphe