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Power and TimeTemporalities in Conflict and the Making of History$
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Dan Edelstein, Stefanos Geroulanos, and Natasha Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481623

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.001.0001

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Legal Pluralism as Temporal Pluralism: Historical Rights, Legal Vitalism, and Non-Synchronous Sovereignty

Legal Pluralism as Temporal Pluralism: Historical Rights, Legal Vitalism, and Non-Synchronous Sovereignty

Chapter:
(p.53) 1 Legal Pluralism as Temporal Pluralism: Historical Rights, Legal Vitalism, and Non-Synchronous Sovereignty
Source:
Power and Time
Author(s):

Natasha Wheatley

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.003.0002

We often think of legal pluralism in geographic terms, through reference to enclaves, anomalous zones, frontiers, and borderlands, for example. This chapter explores the idea that there might be genres of legal pluralism structured by a temporal logic rather than a spatial one—legal pluralisms voiced in the language of history rather than geography. It analyzes debates about “historical rights”—rights inherited “from the past” that qualify or frustrate sovereignty in the present. It first examines the question of the “survival” of indigenous land rights in settler colonial jurisdictions like Australia and Canada, with particular reference to the landmark Mabo decision by the High Court of Australia. It then broadens the frame to consider earlier instances of rights claims with a similar historical logic, with a focus on historical rights and residual sovereignties in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The author presents both cases as instances of “non-synchronous sovereignty”—that is, sovereignties that struggle to control and unify time.

Keywords:   sovereignty, legal pluralism, historical rights, settler colonialism, indigenous rights, Mabo, jurisdiction, terra nullius, Australia, Habsburg Empire

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