Postcolonial Theories of Law

Eve Darian-Smith

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    THIS CHAPTER EXPLORES postcolonial theories of law that today are more widely recognised than ever before amongst scholars, political theorists and legal practitioners.1 Concerns with the postcolonial dimensions of legal engagement have been present in some academic circles for over three decades. However, the terms of the conversation have shifted over the years to apply more aptly to current global geopolitical realities. Whereas the language of earlier postcolonial theorists was framed by the parameters of nation-state histories and interests and primarily focused on the dialectic between colonising nations and the colonised, contemporary scholars talk in terms of the relations between what is commonly referred to as the global North and global South. This shift in terminology is important. It expands the lens of analysis from state-centred law in the context of specific national colonial enterprises to a more global post-Westphalian worldview that takes into account the postcolonial dimensions of a range of transnational, regional, state and local legal engagements.2 It opens up the conversation to include the oppression of all communities historically treated as racially and ethnically inferior to the colonising society, whether or not these communities self-identify as ‘indigenous’ or think of themselves as colonised. Moreover, it allows for rethinking contemporary legal subjectivities by moving beyond Western versus non-Western binaries and acknowledging new forms of colonialism, such as the colonising of East Timor by Indonesia, Eritrea by Ethiopia, and the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLaw and Social Theory
    Editors Reza Banakar and Max Travers
    Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
    PublisherHart Publishing
    Pages247-264
    Edition2nd
    ISBN (Print)9781849463812
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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