My essay Who Owns the Universe appears in Aurealis #151. I was inspired to write after seeing the film of Chaos Walking (2021) and marvelling at colonists of the future behaving in more or less the same way as colonists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, appointing themselves owners of whatever land took their fancy and sidelining indigenous cultures that already existed on the same land. The essay tries to set out some considerations for more enlightened colonisers of the universe, illustrated with well-known science fiction stories.
For further reading, here are the main references I used in preparing the essay:
- Sumner J. La Croix (1992), Sheep, Squatters, and the Evolution of Land Rights in Australia: 1787-1847, Inequality and the Commons, the Third Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property.
- Brian Taylor Sumner (2003), Territorial Disputes at the International Court of Justice, Duke Law Journal, Vol. 53, pages 1779-1812.
- Eytan Tepper and Christopher Whitehead (2018), Moon Inc.: The New Zealand Model of Granting Legal Personality to Natural Resources Applied to Space, New Space, Vol. 6, No. 4.
- National Museum of Australia (n.d.), Defining Moments: Robertson Land Acts.