Subjects of Law: Rightful Selves and the Legal Process in Imperial Britain and the British Empire

This AHRC research networking project (2012–14) aims to explore the impact of colonial law upon the making of social and political identities, the translation of culturally specific ideas and practices into a 'global' legal language, and the transformation of common law itself – in Britain as much as in those distant countries where British subjects once lived. It begins with the hypothesis that in asserting what they (or others) were entitled to, people enmeshed in any legal process are inevitably compelled to state who they (and others) are, and that in a colonial or imperial context, the compulsions are particularly acute as well as transformative. The network has organised three academic events/conferences, which brought together scholars of history, law and literature, working on a huge range of geographical areas - including imperial Britain, colonial North America and the Atlantic world, the dominions of Australia and New Zealand, Mandate Palestine, colonial west Africa, India, Malaya and Hong Kong. Dr Nandini Chatterjee is currently editing a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal derived from the proceedings of the conference ‘Spaces of Law’, and working together with other network members to curate an exhibition of the Privy Council, British empire and law, at the UK Supreme Court.

Authorities and interpreters

Three themed conference panels and a roundtable, as part of the larger conference on the ‘Legal Histories of the British Empire’ conference at Singapore, July 2012.

Spaces of law

A conference co-organised with Centre for Studies in Social Systems (CSSSC), Kolkata, India, 11–13 December 2012.

Poetics of law, Politics of Self, at Mount Edgcumbe house, UK, 5–6 September 2013. Please see our conferences and events page for more details.

Dr Nandini Chatterjee is Principal Investigator of this research networking project.