Thursday, November 24, 2016

Law and Colonial Violence: An International Workshop

[We have the following announcement of Law and Colonial Violence: An International Workshop at to be held at Queen Mary University of London and sponsored by QMUL, Cambridge University, and the European University Institute, to be held on 14 February 2017.  The deadline for abstracts is 17 December 2016.]

Now more than ever, the relationship between colonial violence and law stands at the centre of public and scholarly attention. While some have sought to position law as a ‘limiting factor’ in restraining the violence of imperial rule, there is plenty of empirical evidence illustrating the degree to which jurists and the law itself have been deeply implicated in the creation and maintenance of empire, including its utility of violence. Growing academic interest in the connections between these two perspectives has been made evident by important new fields of inquiry. These include legal, social scientific, and historiographical debates on colonial violence in the ‘long’ nineteenth century, as well as more recent discussions regarding international criminal law since the end of the Cold War, turns to ‘history', ‘critical theory’, the ‘global’, or ‘postcolonial’ in legal and intellectual history, the laws of war in the post-9/11 epoch, and arguments regarding the ‘breakthroughs’ of human rights in the 1970s and 1990s - or, perhaps, (much) earlier.

In light of recent attempts to engage in interdisciplinary study of new discourses and methodological approaches, this international workshop co-organized by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), the European University Institute (EUI), and the University of Cambridge seeks to examine the genealogy of this complex and frequently contested intersection of law in its broadest sense, imperial violence, and the growing force of internationalism from a truly global perspective by calling for papers that address these questions and themes.

This workshop will seek to bring together both graduate students and more advanced scholars working with a variety of historical, legal, intellectual, and theoretical methods to explore the relationship between law and imperial violence from roughly the 1800s up to the 1970s, when decolonization was reaching its end phase and the Additional Protocols were being signed. We particularly invite scholars working on those laws regulating policing and violence in an imperial context, such as emergency penal, or martial laws, the laws of war, and human rights.
Potential topics range from, but are not limited to, the implementation of colonial emergency laws at a local, regional or national level; law as a justifier or facilitator of violence; law as an instrument for limiting or ending colonial violence; the laws of war and human rights in colonial and postcolonial contexts; a conceptual or theoretical history of law, civilization, race, and colonial violence; indigenous resistance and the law; historical comparisons across time, geographical locations (metropole/periphery), and empires; the influence of empire on the drafting of new laws or declarations regulating warfare and imperial policing; and the problem of clashing or overlapping legal regimes in imperial contexts (e.g. emergency laws vs. human rights).

The workshop, which is organized by Jacob Ramsay Smith (QMUL), Joseph McQuade (Cambridge), and Boyd van Dijk (EUI/King's College), aims at bringing together scholars into a one-day intensive workshop at QMUL. It will feature a number of panels and a keynote lecture by Professor Dirk Moses, of the University of Sydney. Abstracts (350 words long) should be submitted to and are due December 17, 2016.

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