Necropolitics and the violence of Indigenous incarceration

  • Kirstie Broadfield James Cook University
  • Glenn Dawes James Cook University
  • Mark David Chong James Cook University
Keywords: Indigenous Australian, violence, incarceration, necropolitics, necropower, criminal justice


Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, over thirty years ago, there have been over 400 Indigenous deaths in custody, with 28% of the Australian prison population identifying as Indigenous. Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system continues to be an unresolved issue despite varying attempts to reduce the high incidence of incarceration experienced by Indigenous Australians. This paper proposes a fresh approach to analysing the violence of Indigenous incarceration using the theory of necropolitics. The paper represents a critical discussion of a work-in-progress of how an analytical framework based on necropolitics has the potential to elevate the often-silenced voices of vulnerable populations, such as Indigenous Australians, within the criminal justice system. This is because the proposed study will present a multi-level analysis of the overt and covert forms of violence perpetrated against Indigenous Australians within the criminal justice system and unlock the potential of exposing the extent to which unequal relations of power contribute to these forms of violence.  The significance of this research therefore lies in its capacity to provide policymakers with deeper insights into how such forms of violence impact upon and further disempower Indigenous Australians in the Australian criminal justice system.


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Author Biographies

Kirstie Broadfield, James Cook University

PhD Candidate, College of Arts, Society & Education

Glenn Dawes, James Cook University

Associate Professor, College of Arts, Society & Education

Mark David Chong, James Cook University

Senior Lecturer, College of Arts, Society & Education

How to Cite
Broadfield, K., Dawes, G., & Chong, M. D. (2021). Necropolitics and the violence of Indigenous incarceration. Decolonization of Criminology and Justice, 3(1), 5-26.