Law, history, colonialism

The reach of empire

Drawing on the latest contemporary research from an internationally acclaimed group of scholars, this book examines the meanings of 'law' and 'imperialism'. The book explores the effects of the presence of indigenous peoples on the modification, interpretation and inheritance of British laws and the legal ideology by white law-makers. It offers a brief history of imperial law, focusing ultimately on its terminal failure in colonialism. The first part of the book presents the processes of colonialism's legality, the internal dynamics of law's theories, the external politics of law's rule. A brief history of imperial law, focusing ultimately on its terminal failure in colonialism, follows. The second part foregrounds racial differentiation at the heart of colonialism, and the work of law(s), courts and legislatures. It helps in defining a colonial population and in categorizing and excluding colonized populations from citizenship in specific localities. The central theme of the third part of the book is conflict: of collision between differing legalities and concepts of justice. The focus is on legal principles and evidence, and on narrative as imperial power. The fourth part explores and analyzes specific historical instances where law and history intersect, challenging European paradigms of sovereignty and fairness from the perspective of indigenous rights. Colonialism lives on in settler societies and other so-called 'postcolonial' states. It lives in continuing conflict over natural resources, daily reconstitution of gender and 'race', and the ongoing challenge to the veracity of indigenous evidence in courtrooms.

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