Hyperincarceration and Aboriginal life on the Victoria River

Hyperincarceration and Aboriginal life on the Victoria River Thesis

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

  • Author(s): Horton, Patrick
  • Published: 2022
  • Publisher: The University of Sydney
  • Volume: PhD

Abstract: Indigenous people in northern Australia are among the most incarcerated on the planet. I examine the impacts of this regime on the everyday lives of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory's Victoria River region. Based on long-term participant observation informed by the question, "what happens in families and communities when people are locked up all the time?", this thesis contributes empirically grounded material to the growing bodies of global scholarship on settler colonialism and hyperincarceration as projects concerned with the management and elimination of surplus populations. My ethnography elucidates local convictions that carcerality has little to do with justice and often perpetuates those social harms it purports to correct. A historical analysis grounded in the material and affective conditions of Aboriginal life demonstrates how hyperincarceration is only the latest iteration of strategies of containment and dehumanisation which have always characterised local settler-native relations. I attend to the role of the carceral settler state in structuring the experience of Aboriginal childhood, ways of relating amongst close kin, masculinities and father-son relations, and the impacts of this regime across and between generations, which further compound existing radical inequalities. These outcomes of hyperincarceration advance the state’s facilitation of extractive capital by erasing Aboriginal people from, and Aboriginal relations to, ancestral Country. I demonstrate that the carceral saturation of contemporary Aboriginal life renders the carceral state both pervasive and yet often seemingly not there at all, demonstrative of the haunting implications and the ‘unfinished business’ of ongoing settler colonial occupation. I propose a theory of carceral genocide, identifying the central role of the carceral settler state in the destruction of a way of life.

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Suggested Citation
Horton, Patrick, 2022, Hyperincarceration and Aboriginal life on the Victoria River, Volume:PhD, Thesis, viewed 05 December 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=40027.

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