Indigenous Jurisprudence, Rights of Nature and the Re-Enchantment of Law

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Room 223, Level 2 Melbourne Law School

The rights of nature represent a meeting point of sorts of the ecological jurisprudence, or wild law, movement and Indigenous cosmologies. The idea of non-human persons as legal agents resonates with animist ontologies and belief in a sentient earth that run counter to Enlightenment thinking, even as the invocation of liberal notions of opposable rights represents a strategic concession to existing legal and political realities. In this paper I ask how far the challenge posed by the rights of nature to the dominant philosophical tradition goes: the joining of culture and nature, finding mind within matter and vice versa, or even the re-enchantment of law?

Kirsten Anker is Associate Professor of Law at McGill University, Montreal, with a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney.  Teaching and research interests extend to property, legal theory, Aboriginal law, evidence, dispute resolution, resource management, and legal education.  She has written widely on the challenge to orthodox understandings of law and sovereignty posed by the recognition in Australia and Canada that Indigenous law “intersects” or co-exists with state law, and draws on studies in legal theory, anthropology, Indigenous and occidental philosophy, translation and language. Current projects include work on Indigenous legal traditions in formal legal education, non-static digital mapping in land claims, the privatization of Indigenous consultation, and ecological jurisprudence.