Scholars or gatekeepers?

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Nielsen, JM 2004, 'Scholars or gatekeepers?', paper presented to Socio-Legal Research Centre Seminar Series, Griffith University, Brisbane, Qld., 2 August.


This paper will discuss my reflections on the role of legal research and scholarship and invites participants to consider whether legal research amounts to scholarship or to a sophisticated form of gate keeping. These reflections were prompted by two things. First, my postgraduate study, which involves legal issues relevant to the experiences of Indigenous Australian peoples, required me to engage with Indigenous critiques of western research methodologies. Doing so also required me to develop a more ethical methodology with which to engage with the Indigenous Australian peoples who participated in my study, and a means to critically analyse the colonising impact of contemporary mainstream law. Secondly, when I attempted to stimulate debate of the Indigenous critiques by submitting an article for publication in a mainstream Australian law journal, the tenor of the clear rejection I received gave me cause to dwell more deeply on the hidden assumptions that may endure within the academy.