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Making Migration Law
  • Cited by 11
  • Eve Lester, Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
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Book description

The emergence of international human rights law and the end of the White Australia immigration policy were events of great historical moment. Yet, they were not harbingers of a new dawn in migration law. This book argues that this is because migration law in Australia is best understood as part of a longer jurisprudential tradition in which certain political-economic interests have shaped the relationship between the foreigner and the sovereign. Eve Lester explores how this relationship has been wrought by a political-economic desire to regulate race and labour; a desire that has produced the claim that there exists an absolute sovereign right to exclude or condition the entry and stay of foreigners. Lester calls this putative right a discourse of 'absolute sovereignty'. She argues that 'absolute sovereignty' talk continues to be a driver of migration lawmaking, shaping the foreigner-sovereign relation and making thinkable some of the world's harshest asylum policies.


‘This book exposes the moral and political bankruptcy that comes with ‘absolute sovereignty' - a domestic law doctrine with its origins and currency in the politics of xenophobia and racial discrimination - particularly when courts fail to assert control and apply the principles of legality integral to their duty to do justice. Dr Lester's work is a major point of departure; as she clearly shows, now is the time to question such a serious challenge to democratic government and the rule of law.'

Guy S. Goodwin-Gill - Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford

‘Eve Lester's personal energy and passion for this subject shines through this accessible and highly engaging book. It should be a foundational text for all students and scholars seeking to understand Australia's migration law system.'

Kim Rubenstein - Australian National University, Canberra

‘Eve Lester's in-depth analysis is most timely and valuable. At a time when migration and refugee policies are at the forefront of international attention and domestic debate, it is hoped the evidence base it provides will contribute to a serious reorientation from current exclusionist thinking towards policies of inclusion and diversity that guarantee freedoms from want and fear.'

Volker Türk - UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees (Protection), UNHCR

‘This is a book for law and policy makers as well as for judges, human rights lawyers and activists. It provides the backstory so necessary for a proper understanding of Australia's uniquely harsh response to unsolicited migration.'

The Honorable Catherine Branson, QC - former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission and former judge of the Federal Court of Australia

'… a very readable and engaging text whose value extends far beyond the case of Australia … Making Migration Law should be read by scholars and practitioners who are researching foreigner-sovereign relations in such realms as history, anthropology, philosophy, sociology, and literary studies.’

Source: International Journal of Refugee Law

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  • 2 - Early International Law and the Foreigner
    pp 51-80


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