Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 12:30pm to 1:45pm
Solarium (room FA2) Falconer Hall - 84 Queen's Park

Critical Analysis of Law Workshop Series


Renisa Mawani
University of British Columbia Dept. of Sociology

Law, Settler Colonialism, and “the Forgotten Space” of Maritime Worlds

  Tuesday, February 28, 2017
12:30 – 1:45
Solarium (room FA2), Falconer Hall
84 Queen’s Park

Law and settler colonialism is not a self-evident, contained, or straightforward field of inquiry. Rather, it uneasily straddles two overlapping bodies of scholarship: legal histories of colonialism and settler colonial studies. In part one, I place these literatures into conversation to trace their contributions, overlaps, and incommensurabilities. In part two, I turn to maritime worlds as a method of speaking across their analytic divides. Here, I consider the Torrens as a system of land registry inaugurated in the colony of South Australia (1858) and as the last clipper ship to be built in Britain (1875). In its recurring and double life, the Torrens offers an illuminating nineteenth century example of the interconnection and interdependence of land and sea that serves as a useful lesson today. The global exigencies that arise from the past, organize the present, and impinge on the future demand a shift from terrestrial thinking toward the aqueous and amphibian legalities of settler colonial power.

Renisa Mawani (PhD, University of Toronto) is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Co- Chair of the Law and Society Program at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Mawani works in the fields of critical theory and colonial legal history and has published widely on law, colonialism, and legal geography. Her first book, Colonial Proximities (2009) details the legal encounters between indigenous peoples, Chinese migrants, “mixed-race” populations, and Europeans in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century British Columbia. Her second book, Across Oceans of Law (under contract with Duke University Press), is a global and maritime legal history of the Japanese ship, Komagata Maru. The book draws on oceans as method to trace the ship’s 1914 route across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, to advance the argument that legal forms of colonial and racial violence are deeply entangled, and to consider time as a critical register of empire. With Iza Hussin, she is co-editor of “The Travels of Law: Indian Ocean Itineraries” published in Law and History Review (2014). In 2015, she received the Killam Prize for Graduate Instruction, a Dean of Arts Faculty Research Award, and was named a Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.


For more workshop information, please contact Nadia Gulezko at n.gulezko@utoronto.ca