Steven de Haer
The University of Western Australia
In this article I suggest that ‘literary texts’ have the potential to respond to the contours of inclusion and exclusion developed and administered by the law. By applying the theory and methodologies of ‘law as literature’ studies to a quasi-judicial text (the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report ), I will show that there is a demonstrated body of criticism which argues that law is made human when studied as story. I will call on ‘critical race theory’ and suggest an ‘alternative voice’ methodology to highlight the way that the Indigenous people of Australia have historically occupied the subject position of ‘outgroup’.
By referring to the potentials of constitutive rhetoric, I will show that Bringing Them Home operates as a legal story that attempts to interpellate Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Australia through narrative and rhetorical strategy. Finally, I will contend that the constitutive rhetoric of Bringing Them Home offers new possibilities for Aboriginal subjectivity – that is, it offers a new space for discursive practice, one that redefines and remodels the concept of community and reconfigures the parameters of inclusion and exclusion.