Research themes

Law and colonialism

One major field of enquiry in recent scholarship on imperialism has been the development of languages and systems of law in colonial contexts. Several members of the department examine, in various ways, the legal processes at work in colonial states, and the functionalities of law as an extension of imperial power in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. Some members, for instance, are examining the technologies of surveillance, policing and punishment applied under colonial regimes; others explore questions such as the interactions between colonial law and alternative legal jurisdictions (e.g. custom; Islamic law), and the complex realities of legal pluralism that often emerged within colonial states. All are in some way engaged with an exploration of the wider questions of how the legal vocabularies and structures of metropole, colony and locality interacted in practice within colonial societies.