ALIEN NATION: Redefining the Alien in Law and Science Fiction

Susan Bird, Jo Bird

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Themes of the alien other are ubiquitous in Australian texts, in both law and science fiction. This chapter discusses the recurrence of these themes in various (con)texts, from the first pre-federation alien invasion novel The Germ Growers to the High Court decision in Love v Commonwealth; Thoms v Cth. The chapter argues that the enduring Australian fascination and anxiety with the alien is tied to the illegitimacy of Australia’s occupation by the British based on the claim that the continent was terra nullius. The work of First Nations author Claire Coleman and early parliamentary debates are also analysed in this context. Where colonial law asserts the lawfulness and neutrality of its concepts, ‘white-washing’ invasion, massacres, and genocide, the science fiction genre allows a space for the trauma of such brutalities and illegalities to be explored outside of law’s empire.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Cultural Legal Studies
Place of PublicationSweden
PublisherTaylor and Francis AS
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781040013250, 9781003467762
ISBN (Print)9780367506957
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022.


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