Instructor(s): Mariana Valverde

For graduate students, the course number is LAW3033H.

Note: Revised course schedule.

Location: Canadiana Building, 14 Queen's Park Crescent, room 265

This course is for students interested in thinking more deeply about law, security, rights, and sovereignty. It is interdisciplinary. In documents such as the Canadian Charter of Rights, as well as in popular depictions of law and justice it is taken for granted that “persons” exist by nature and are rights bearers by nature. The myth that legal and political systems have as their centre a naturally existing person who is a rights bearer conceals the real history of personhood, the Eurocentric and masculinist content of the supposedly neutral “person,” and the fundamental role played by law in this complex story.

This course will study the development of legal thinking about the “person” including foundational assumptions about human nature in early modern Europe that are still found today; social contract theory, especially through the American and French Revolutions of the late 1700’s; the extension of legal personhood to both public and for-profit corporations. We will also explore various critiques of liberal and individualistic personhood, including Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, and poststructuralist writers. We will also explore the perspective of non-Western, indigenous legal traditions and their thinking about law, security, justice, and sovereignty.

Reading journal from 1,500-2,000 words (20%); reading journal + reflections of 1,500 words (20%); mini-essay of 2,000 words (20%); course syllabus assignment of 1,250 words (30%); and class participation (10%).

At a Glance

First Term


5 JD


W: 10:00 - 12:00