Despotic Dominion brings together the work of scholars whose study of the evolution of property law in the colonies recognizes the value in locating property law and rights within the broader political, economic, and intellectual contexts of those societies. The stimulus for this new interdisciplinary scholarship has emerged from litigation and political action for the resolution of questions of Aboriginal title and other disputes over property rights in several former settler colonies, most notably Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. As the essays in this book demonstrate, a significant part of the recent explosion in interest and speculation about property rights relates historically to the securing of a more reliable cultural context for assessing these claims. For this reason, Despotic Dominion will be of interest not only to students and researchers of colonial history, but also to scholars of native studies and law, as well as those interested in the contested terrain of property rights.
John McLaren is Lansdowne Professor of Law at the University of Victoria. A.R. Buck is Senior Lecturer in Law and Editor of the Australian Journal of Legal History at Macquarie University. Nancy E. Wright is Director of the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Property Rights at the University of Newcastle.