Law: The Way of the Ancestors

AUD $24.95

The First Knowledges Series

Marcia Langton and Aaron Corn

What do you need to know to prosper as a people for at least 65,000 years?
The First Knowledges series provides a deeper understanding of the expertise and ingenuity of Indigenous Australians.

Law is culture, and culture is law. Given by the ancestors and cultivated over millennia, Indigenous law defines what it is to be human. Complex and evolving, law holds the keys to resilient, caring communities and a life in balance with nature.

Marcia Langton and Aaron Corn show how Indigenous law has enabled people to survive and thrive in Australia for more than 2000 generations. Nurturing people and places, law is the foundation of all Indigenous societies in Australia, giving them the tools to respond and adapt to major environmental and social changes. But law is not a thing of the past. These living, sophisticated systems are as powerful now as they have ever been, if not more so.

Law: The Way of the Ancestors challenges readers to consider how Indigenous law can inspire new ways forward for us all in the face of global crises.


The First Knowledges series offers an introduction to Indigenous knowledges in vital areas and their application to the present day and the future. Exploring practices such as architecture and design, land management, medicine, astronomy and innovation, this six-book series brings together two very different ways of understanding the natural world: one ancient, the other modern. The sixth book focuses on Law and culture.

About the series: Each book is a collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers and editors; the series is edited by Margo Neale, senior Indigenous curator at the National Museum of Australia.

‘Our Laws are forever present and provide the pathways for all Australians to truly learn how to belong to this continent.’ – June Oscar

‘No other current work has been able to so comprehensively explain the significance of traditional law in all its manifestations.’ – Henry Reynolds

Product details

Published 2023
Thames & Hudson Australia
Paperback, b&w, 228 pages.
ISBN: 9781760762827

About the Authors

Marcia Langton AO, PhD is the granddaughter of a Yiman man and an anthropologist, geographer and public intellectual. In 2020, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of her work in tertiary education and Aboriginal rights. She is a Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor and has held the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne since 2000.

Aaron Corn PhD is the Professor and Inaugural Director of the Indigenous Knowledge Institute at the University of Melbourne. He has a background in music, collections management and Indigenous knowledge and serves as Director of the National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia.

Additional information

Weight 0.22 kg
Dimensions 197 × 131 × 18 mm

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