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University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series

Faculty of Law, UNSW
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Cunneen, Chris --- "Contemporary Penality in the Shadow of Colonial Patriarchy" [2013] UNSWLRS 4

Last Updated: 8 February 2013

Contemporary Penality in the Shadow of Colonial Patriarchy

Chris Cunneen, University of New South Wales
This paper was available at:

This paper was included in G.Coventry & M.Shircore (eds.), Proceedings of the 5th Annual Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference: July 7 and 8, Cairns, QLD: James Cook University, 2012. This paper may also be referenced as [2013] UNSWLRS 4.
Imprisonment in Australia has been a growing industry and large numbers of vulnerable people find themselves in a state of serial incarceration. Women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in particular have experienced rapidly expanding imprisonment rates over recent decades. Our argument is this article is relatively straightforward: to understand contemporary penal culture and in particular its severity and excess in relation to Indigenous people and women, we need to draw upon an understanding of the dynamics of colonial patriarchy. Although at a micro level, specific legislation and policy changes have negatively impacted on the imprisonment of vulnerable groups, it is within a broader context of the strategies and techniques of colonial patriarchy that we can understand why it is that particular social groups appear to become the targets of penal excess.

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