The law is heavily implicated in creating, maintaining, and reproducing racialised hierarchies which bring about and preserve acute global disparities and injustices. This essential book provides an examination of the meanings of decolonisation and explores how this examination can inform teaching, researching, and practising of law.
It explores the ways in which the foundations of law are entangled in colonial thought and in its [re]production of ideas of commodification of bodies and space-time. Thus, it is an exploration of the ways in which we can use theories and praxes of decolonisation to produce legal knowledge for flourishing futures.
This chapter focuses on a detailed examination of the interrelation between colonisation and decolonisation. There is emphasis within this examination on theorisations of decolonisation that conceptualise the normativity of the colonial in constructing theoretical and practical opposition to it. This examination proceeds through the different contexts in which this colonisation/decolonisation relationship manifests itself: settler states, post-colonial states, as well within colonising states, such as the UK. Special attention is paid to the spatial–temporal continuities and overlaps within these structures and their refusals. It is noted that the long survival of the logics and praxes of ongoing colonialism is due, in part, to its ability to co-opt the other, adapt itself, and evolve when necessary. The chapter recognises and argues for the need for strategies for decolonisation to account for this, especially in relation to such work done in law schools in universities.
This chapter examines the nature of Euro-modern law and how this nature enabled and continues to enable legal knowledge’s production, reproduction, and maintenance of colonial logics and praxes. This chapter confronts law’s historical and contemporary use in service of the colonial, as an invitation to the readers to view law as an uninterrupted continuum across space–time, which carries within it certain instances and ways of world-making. It argues that to enact decolonisation within and with legal knowledge is to pay closer attention to the concepts and methods of colonial thought that survive the colonial process unnoticed. Consequently, this chapter is a general examination of how Euro-modern legal knowledge is, historically and ontologically, implicated in producing ongoing colonial conditions and modalities of life.
This chapter focuses on how concepts of the human/body emerge from or are infused by colonial legal knowledge and logics. Racialisation – the main technology of imperial power – provides the primary point of entry into this analysis, with an understanding of the ways in which other axes of human categorisation/hierarchisation are implicated in the colonial constitution of the human. The contours of the category ‘human’ have been profoundly shaped by colonial knowledge systems therefore, Euro-modern legal knowledge necessarily is underpinned by and furthers the production of this ‘Europe’s human’ within its corpus. So, this chapter explains how this production enables the creation of racialised capital and other social constructions of colonial conditions of life, with the focus on how anti-Blackness, in particular, underwrites the evolution of colonial logics and the selective destructiveness of Euro-modernity as it is inscribed by and on the human/body. The chapter argues that law contains an inherent self-incapacitation to protect life, as Euro-modernity is coded instead to protect the conditions that produce bare life and for the interests of capital accumulation.
This chapter focuses on how the society (space, place, and all they contain) around law’s human has been and is being constituted by influences of colonial logics and praxes. This examination takes reference from the use of race as an abstractive technology in the making of property from humanity. Therefore, it leans further into an analysis of how racial capitalism, in particular, and Euro-modern law in general are both entangled in the legal ontologies of, not just human-body negation, but also contingent appropriation/redefinition of land and space. This process ties the constitution of law’s human to the creation of a universalised Euro-modern legal ontology of land as a means of capital accumulation as well as human veneration reliant on this. Thus, this chapter argues that one of the most significant outcomes of the legitimate property-fication of labour, land, and nature through Euro-modern legal epistemologies, is the complicity of legal technologies in continuing the colonial conditions of life that extend beyond the escalating disappearance of testamentary life into the looming endangerment of the planet.
This chapter argues that time and temporality are vital means for understanding the ongoing-ness of colonial logics and praxis and their persisting embeddedness in legal knowledge. This is because law as a tool for social order, (past, present, and forward-looking), is complicit in enabling colonially and racially accumulated capital and other advantages to be retained through abstractions from time. The same is true of colonial and racial dispossession and ancillary disadvantages. This permanence of accumulation and dispossession results partly from a reliance on linearity and mono-temporality within legal knowledge, which presupposes the inevitability of progress in ways which naturalise the continuing effects of colonialism. Such linearity and singularity obscure and invisibilise the ongoing abstractive and extractive violence enacted through erasure of othered bodies and continuations of colonial cartographies in sacrifice zones. This chapter argues that effective decolonisation requires an unsettling of time and colonial chronopolitics.
This chapter starts with the premise taken up in the previous chapters – that decolonisation is a specific anti-colonial political project, instituted by colonised peoples, including, peoples in what is designated the Global South, racialised peoples, and indigenous peoples. It recognises that taking up decolonisation within law schools means that we must firstly, appreciate the deep and often invisible impact of colonialism, as ‘a structure and not an event’, on our work in law schools. This position recognises the nigh impossibility of enacting decolonisation from within law schools. Consequently, this chapter responds with some theoretical reflection and practical suggestions to the question, “What does it mean to dream of new anticolonial worlds from within the law school?” The response to that question in this chapter is grounded in detailed appreciation of the ways in which colonial conditions of life are inaugurated and reproduced, and queries if and how legal knowledge within the Global North can disrupt and unsettle this cycle of (re)production – through the curriculum, research, and other ancillary practices.
This chapter concludes the book by reflecting on the context of the overarching structures within which law schools find themselves – the university and the world. This chapter grapples with the impossibility of effectively ‘decolonising’ if this ambition fails to acknowledge how colonial logics have ordered the university sector and the world in which we live. Understanding the limitations of the structures within which we work allows us to be simultaneously intentional and honest about our endeavours. So, we must ask ourselves from within the law school, what outcomes we want our actions in decolonisation to produce, not just in our law schools, but in the university and the world beyond. We must ask what it means to work in a university and live in a world where colonial logics are ceased.
This chapter discusses the current state of the law school in the UK and explains why decolonisation has been suggested as a response to that state. This summary includes a description of the qualifying law degree, the composition of the canon, the composition of law schools across the UK, as well as an examination of experiences of marginalised students and staff. This includes a critique of the uses of diversity to remedy those experiences. This critique extends to the work of law schools … what is taught and researched, as well as their structures. Therefore, this chapter provides the contextual background against which the chapters that follow are set. It also introduces the main arguments of the book – that any effective work on decolonisation in law schools must trouble the fundamental concepts of the discipline, as well as the position of the law school within the neoliberal university and enmeshed in a world driven by racialised capital.
George Floyd’s last words were ‘I cannot breathe’. But, the truth is that it is we who cannot breathe amid all the ongoing hatred and racism. It is devastating to see that many people survive the global pandemic (COVID-19) only for their lives to end by another human. Hence, it is important to end this evil cycle before it puts an end to us.1
Quite soon after the COVID-19 pandemic reached the UK, its disproportionate impact on Black and other people of colour in our communities and among NHS staff became apparent. We watched the viscerally arresting pictures of the first NHS deaths displaying Black and Brown faces on our news screens. We waited desperately for answers and solutions in the subsequent official reports (PHE, 2020) with the banal ministerial claims that the ‘virus does not discriminate’ ringing in our ears. However, we knew, as Omar Khan, the former Director of the UK’s leading race think tank, the Runnymede Trust, was quick to remind those of us that needed reminding: ‘racism is a matter of life and death’2 which the pandemic has merely served cruelly to expose and exacerbate. ‘Racism is the real pandemic’ – as the banners of Black Lives Matters (BLM) protesters (shown in Figure 5.1) proclaimed – because COVID-19 does discriminate through inequalities in health, education, housing and employment, impacting and determining ‘the lives of BAME groups from cradle to grave’. In November 2020, the American Medical Association, recognized racism – systemic, cultural and interpersonal – as a ‘public health threat’3.