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J. Balint, Keeping Hold of Justice-Encounters Between Law and Colonialism, reviewed by Thalia Anthony

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State Crime Journal Special Issue on Abolitionism, Settler Colonialism and State Crime 

Keeping Hold of Justice: Encounters Between Law and Colonialism makes a key contribution to the literature on colonial structural injustices and the need to centre First Nations voices in historical truth-telling. The authors—historians Jennifer Balint, Julie Evans and Nesam McMillan and law professor and Wiradjuri man Mark McMillian—identify colonial harms against First Nations people and the potential for structural justice to transform the relationship. The book augments their previous research on injustice in colonial truth-telling (e.g. Balint 2014Balint et al. 2014Balint et al. 2018) and the role of nation-building in promoting justice outcomes and health outcomes (e.g. McMillan et al. 2016) by spotlighting the initiatives of Wurundjeri people’s truth-telling in the face of colonial denial.

The book builds on the concept of “structural violence” coined by Johan Galtung (1969) by applying the idea to an occupier colonial context (see also Tauri and Porou 2014Coulthard 2014Gerlach and Browne 2016Grewcock 2018Jenss 2018Lu 2018Eisenberg 2018Mitchell 2020Wolfe 1994: 101–102). It provides an important study into how the post-WWII “decolonization” era has reproduced and entrenched colonial structures and forms of truth-telling on the terms of the colonizer (see Fanon 1963Anthony 2018). Keeping Hold of Justice is a critical intervention at a time when Victoria—the key location of the book’s research—along with the rest of Australia and other occupier colonies are coming to terms with the nature of truth-telling and treaty-making (e.g. see Williamson 2021a, 2021b) … (read more).

State Crime Journal Special Issue on Abolitionism, Settler Colonialism and State Crime