Terror Australis

white sovereignty and the violence of law

Maria Giannacopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The central contention of this paper is that Australian law is a regime born of, and sustained through racial violence. This paper does not accept that there is an absolute separation between the workings of Australian law and the workings of white sovereignty. To make this argument I bring together two distinct instances of Australian law in order to show the inextricability of law/sovereignty and racial violence. The events of Tampa and most recently the Anti-Terrorism laws are both implicated in the production of a sovereignty that denies the violence of its origins as well as the violence of its contemporary manifestations. This argument requires a thorough reworking of common sense notions of the nature and function of Australian law. In this paper, law is not understood as a system that offers peace, order and neutral organisation. On the contrary, law is posited as a regime of violence that disguises its status as such by circulating a series of knowledges about itself which operate to deny its relation to violence. These knowledges circulate in the Tampa Federal Court judgement and in the Anti-Terrorism laws in ways that reproduce the Australian nation as a white possession.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBorderlands e-journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • racial violence
  • Australian law
  • anti-terrorism laws
  • white sovereignty

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