Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Terra Nullius: A Journey Through No One's Land” as Want to Read:
Terra Nullius: A Journey Through No One's Land
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Terra Nullius: A Journey Through No One's Land

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  152 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Long before the word “genocide” was coined, the British invasion of Australia had annihilated approximately nine-tenths of the continent’s original population of Aborigines. The creation of white Australia depended upon the legal fiction of “terra nullius”—no man’s land—the claim that Aboriginal lands were inhabited by people who would soon die out and who could be helped ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published May 9th 2007 by The New Press (first published April 1st 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Terra Nullius, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Terra Nullius

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 329)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Proving that my reading tastes are wide-ranging, this non-fiction book explores my interest in racism against Aboriginal Australians. First published in Sweden in 2005, it charts the history of black and white relations in Australia from the first point of contact in the 18th century to the current day.

The author, Sven Lindqvist, an accomplished essayist and journalist, seems to have made a name for himself writing about cultural genocide (he has written similar books about black and white relat
A great starting point on Australia, references a lot of fiction and nonfiction, so though this is a short book I ended up with a bunch of Aussie books to read after.

The recent savagery of Australian immigrants (white Europeans) over the original inhabitants is documented better elsewhere, but this book is a much better first read.
Unveiled Truth in all it's brilliance. Through documenting his travels of half the continent, Sven Lindqvist writes a better account of Australian history than most Australian historians. This book should be in the Australian history curriculum at every high school around the country.

One star short because no mention of:

1. Tasmanian genocide
2. Eastern states genocide
3. WEH Stanner and Selective White History
4. Corporate crimes through mining

5. Also using art as a means to success - could have
This is a remarkable book. While there may be other works that also deal with the often-unkown cruel treatment ("mass killing, land-theft, rape, kidnapping and other outrages") of Indigenous Australians at the hands of European invaders and their heirs, this book is in my opinion distinguished by its interdisciplinary approach and original style (for example, the author points out that racist and wildly inaccurate assumptions about Indigenous Australians provided fodder for the theorising of suc ...more
A book written as a travel log and historical fact-finding mission by Swedish travel writer Sven Lindqvist. He travels Australia looking for reference to the original Australians. What follows is a gritty, emotion-packed, painful tete a tete between colonial past and a democratic present which seems to have obliterated the need for recognition of the cultural identity of the continent as it moves into its future. The consequences of this are devastating for many of the aboriginal Australians Lin ...more
Grady Ormsby
Terra Nullius by Sven Lindqvist (translated from Swedish by Sarah Death) is at once a modern-day travelogue, a history of the nascent science of anthropology, the story of aboriginal displacement in Australia, a geographic and geologic survey of the continent and a deeply felt moral polemic on savagery, contrition and moral debt. There are two questions that echo throughout the book. The first is the one classically posed by Charles Darwin: what is it that makes us into human beings? Is it our s ...more
Sarah Walsh
'Everyone said, Jangga meenya bomunggur - the smell of the white man is killing us'.
Carrying the weight of white ancestors who purposefully in their dumb aim tried, and failed dismally to genocide a land's natives, is further annoying when the modern-day white clan who still act out superior, deny Academic research, evidencing Aboriginals' brutal happenings.

It was only the other day, a white man who in questioning an Aboriginal activist, accusing her people of taking benefits, and uncertain wh
C.R. Miller
Depressing and enlightening, a travel book with history as its guide. At first I struggled with what I assumed to be a narrow focus on the mistreatment and atrocities suffered by Aborigines at the hands of the white settlers and Australian government. But as Lindqvist folded in more about the history of clumsy attempts to incorporate superficial knowledge of Aborigines into early theories of human cultural development, the book became grounded in a larger historical and intellectual context. But ...more
Another great book from Sven Lindkvist. This is a unique blend of informed travelogue with historical analysis, social anthropolgy, and the origins of modern Australian art & literature.

Lindkvist accounts for how the white European settlement of Australia in turn resulted in the wholesale systematic dispossession of the indigenous aboriginal peoples. Of course it doesn't end there - not only were their lands and waters stolen but there was a conscious attempt to actually exterminate them alt
Terra Nullius är en viktig bok med ett skrämmande innehåll. Författaren Sven Lindqvist reser runt i Australiens västra del, från Moorundie upp till Darwin och vidare längst med kusten till Ceduna, för att beskriva hur och varför landet är som det är i dag. Han delar upp boken i fyra olika avseenden för att på så sätt kunna diskutera den numera förkastade begreppet terra nullius. Boken tar formen av en resedagbok som beskriver de städer och byar han reser till, boken är även en slags tolkning av ...more
Katja Vehlow
I'm a sucker for travel books. I have never been to Australia, and have seen Australia only through my father's photographs. I encountered Australia for the first time in another travel book, Bruce Chadwin's mesmerizing "Songlines," that I read several times.

Lindqvist travels through Australia, and thanks to the maps I can almost follow along. He lets me see the landscapes, blistering, dusty, and, more importantly, pries loose the stories hidden under the surface. Stories of oppression, genocid
May 23, 2009 Magda rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Magda by: Katy
Nowhere is the horizon more important than in the desert. A sword-cut divides earth and sky. The landscpe is vast, the skyscape even vaster.

The main impression is of overpowering desolation. I wonder how Aboriginal children would react to the Swedish forests. I know how Faeroese children reacted when they found themselves in Norway. In the 1950s on the Faeroe Islands there were some thirty trees all told. Travelling fo rhours through millions of trees proved too much for the children, who burst
Oct 27, 2007 Naeem rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Naeem by: Greg
Shelves: reparations
Lindqvist uses the same form as in his Exterminate All the Brutes. That book is a masterpiece against which this one seems a bit hurried. But Terra Nullis has its own charms. Lindqvist still does four things: travelogue, dream interpretation, reportage of novels written about his travel places by writers of previous generations, and of course, the topic is always genocide.

I wish he had done more work on how we acquire the benefits of genocide. Powerful work after which one cannot think of Aust
Euridice Lale Brown
For the aborigenal people of Australia places are at the heart of their system of belief. Lindqvist adopts in his book a similar perspective linking the telling of anedoctedes, historical facts and literary references to the places he visits during his journey.

The book deals with an important theme that is unfortunately still little known and it arises some difficult questions. However although I find the contents quite interesting I didn't like the narrative style.
I think sometimes I tend to be prejudiced against obscure books—thinking that most of them are probably not very good since they are not well-acclaimed or well-known. Reading excerpts from Terra Nullius for my Community Economic Development class definitely proved my prejudice wrong (To be honest-- should I really allow my reading tastes to be dictated by Barnes & Nobles?). This is a beautiful mixture of narrative and history, describing the devastating deaths and injustices that resulted fr ...more
(3,5 gwiazdki) Słabsza książka niż poprzednio czytana. Może dlatego, że w "Wytępić całe to bydło" odniesieniem był literatura. Nie mam bladego pojęcia o sztuce australijskich Aborygenów, to o czym SL pisze pod koniec książki muszę przyjąć na wiarę (albo zagonić Google'a). Ale i ta książka jest po prostu wstrząsająca. Głównie przez to, że tak wiele z opisywanych historii działo się już za mojego życia! Ledwo 30 - 40 lat temu!
Na dobrą sprawę to chciałbym - ze wstydu - zdrapać swoją własną białą sk
Nice travelogue outlining an all too often overlooked history.
This book should be required reading for anyone interested in the experience of colonization on any continent, but most especially every single white resident of or visitor to Autralia. It is devastating yet imminently readable. The author uses dry wit with expert care, and I think this makes it possible to continue learning about things that no one really WANTS to know. It's hard to say I "enjoyed" it because the stories he tells are not "enjoyable", but I didn't want to put it down.
All the terrible things you suspected happened to the Australian Aborigines at the hands of Europeans...and worse things. This is an interesting travelogue through Australia but it has a dreamlike way of shifting back and forth through time, combining past and present narratives. I really like how this author approaches the important issues head on: How do we, as those who are prospering from exploitation, slavery and theft, apologize? Is apologizing enough? I know this: I need to learn more.
John Benson
Sven Lindqvist has written an unconventional travel book for Australia as he travels around Australia visiting key locations in the Australian governments interactions with its aboriginal population. One gets a feel for the landscape, but the book is a harsh indictment on how Aborigines were treated by successive Australian governments and whites who worked with the people. The book is extremely powerful.
Lindqvist has quickly become one of my favorite historiographical travel writers. Is that even a genre? Apparently. After Exterminate all the Brutes, Terra Nullius can't quite hold steam, but it was a thought-provoking read nonetheless.
Steven Monrad
History of the oppression of aborigines in Australia by way of the Swedish author's trip through the present day sites -
from colonialist massacres to modern day indigenous art.
Nicely written in stories.
Such a light-touch and at the same time so powerful. The feel of this gigantic land and the horror of this Conquest.
Justin Paul
Tragic and shameful. An eclectic dip into Aboriginal history. I love Lindqvist's style.
Sara-Maria Sorentino
solid wall of white incomprehension
Pallida Mors
Fucking brilliant.
Nothing new.
Iida marked it as to-read
Nov 29, 2015
Literary Relish
Literary Relish marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Treatise on Elegant Living
  • Dikter och prosa 1954–2004
  • Vägen mot bålberget
  • Världens dåligaste språk: Tankar om språket och människan idag
  • A Brief Stop On the Road From Auschwitz
  • Expeditionen: Min kärlekshistoria
  • Att föda ett barn (Maj, #1)
  • De Profundis, The Ballad of Reading Gaol & Other Writings
  • Tjänstekvinnans son
  • The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge
  • I en förvandlad stad (Stadserien, #4)
  • The Lucky Country
  • Var det bra så?
  • Kvinnor och äppelträd
  • A Far Country
  • Norrtullsligan
  • Den onde dagen (Sagaen om Isfolket, #44)
  • Det mest förbjudna
Dr. Sven Lindqvist is a Swedish author.

He holds a PhD in History of literature from Stockholm University (his thesis, in 1966, was on Vilhelm Ekelund) and a 1979 honorary doctorate from Uppsala University. In 1960–1961, he worked as cultural attaché at the Swedish embassy in Beijing, China. From 1956–86 he was married to Cecilia Lindqvist, with whom he had two children. He has been married to the
More about Sven Lindqvist...

Share This Book

“Can we feel contrition for other people's crimes? Can we feel contrition for crimes we have not committed personally, but have subsequently profited from? How can we formulate the criteria for contrition to make them applicable to collective responsibility for historical crimes? Perhaps like this:
We freely admit that our predecessors have done wrong and that we are profiting from it.
We ask forgiveness of those who were wronged and of their descendants.
We promise to do our best to make amends to those who were wronged for the effects that still remain.
The larger the collective, the more diluted the personal responsibility. The less intimate the contrition, the greater the risk that it will just be hollow ceremony.”
“In my dream I see the sea, the utterly calm sea. I see the coast, the utterly calm coast. When this utterly calm sea meets the utterly still coast, huge breakers are suddenly thrown up. Two sorts of stillness touch one and other and explode in roars and foam.” 5 likes
More quotes…