Many Bottles for Many Flies: Managing Conflict over Indigenous Peoples’ Cultural Heritage in Western Australia

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David Ritter


This article critically considers the legal regulation of Indigenous people's cultural heritage in Western Australia and its operation within the framework of Australia's federal system of government. The article also sets out the different ways in which Indigenous cultural heritage is conceptualised, including as a public good analogous to property of the crown, an incidental right arising from group native title and as the subject of private contract. The article explores the various notions of 'Indigenous cultural heritage' that exist under Western Australian public law and the significant role of private contractual arrangements. Particular attention is devoted to the uneasy nexus between the laws of native title and heritage in Western Australia.

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Author Biography

David Ritter, University of Western Australia

David Ritter is a lecturer in law at the University of Western Australia where he is also a doctoral candidate in history and law. David is also a Senior Adviser to the Yamatji Marlpa Baba Maaja Aboriginal Corporation, native title representative body for the Pilbara, where he was previously Principal Legal Officer for six years.