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Relegislating the Zong from the perspective of the sea: What does it mean to live in the devastation of time?

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The starting point of this essay is my work on decolonisation and the law, which of course includes the monograph, Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge. But majorly this is a reflection on the ideas behind my chapter “The Sea Casts Its Net of Justice Wide: A Speculative Judgment for What Has Been Left to the Waters of Despair.” In The Anthropocene Judgments Project, pp. 59-71. Routledge, 2023. In that chapter I use [among others] the frameworks of Black/African Science Fiction, Indigenous Knowledge, Earth Laws, and anticolonial logics, to imagine the sea and its inhabitants as central to the legal imaginary.  I take the case Gregson v Gilbert (1783), as my starting point, to consider what justice for environmental damage could look like from the perspective of the ocean. The aim of that reflection is to address a question I continue to return to in my work: are the tools we currently have in legal knowledge sufficient to achieve justice in the present? This has involved taking a critical look at the nature of Euro-modern law that emerges from the ongoing project of colonial exploitation and its entangled afterlives. Or to put it differently, how does the law answer the question of what it means to live in the devastation of time – evidenced by global inequality, over exploitation, continuing racial injustice and environmental disaster.

Decolonising Catering in UK Universities: An often elusive quest for good Jollof and Dodo

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The sixth annual conference of Forever Africa Conference and Events (FACE), was held on the 7th of June 2023. It was an Africa Research Day which aimed to bring together students and staff at the University of Bristol for a day focused on sharing research, and reflecting on approaches to teaching Africa within the University and elsewhere, as well sharing advice on careers in Africa-focused research. At the event we had an “African-inspired” lunch. This was a version of Jollof rice made by the university’s approved caterers. The feedback was that it was very good. I myself enjoyed it. However, I must say that in my experience organising and attending African conferences in the UK, one of the most tricky aspects has been getting the food right. This speaks to a larger and unfortunate attitude of Universities around international cuisine. This is especially grating in institutions that claim to be internationalising, promoting diversity or even to be decolonial. In this blog post, I reflect on these experiences and explain why it is important to be able to find or provide edible Jollof (and other international food) in UK HE.

Decolonisation, Anti-Racism, and Legal Pedagogy: Strategies, Successes, and Challenges – Out Now!

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In 2021, I, Suhraiya Jivraj and Ntina Tzouvala undertook a project to curate pedagogical perspectives on teaching legacies of empire in law schools across different continents. The result was an edited collection with a specific focus on post- and decolonial thought as well as on anti-racist methods in pedagogy. Decolonisation, Anti-Racism, and Legal Pedagogy: Strategies, Successes, and Challenges. Taylor & Francis, 2023.

With contributions from diverse jurisdictions, including India, South Africa, Australia, and Canada, the volume aims to critically examine the ways that decolonisation and anti-racism can be innovated in legal pedagogy. We hoped to demonstrate how teaching can be modified and adapted to address long-standing colonial and racial injustice in the curriculum. For more on our initial vision for the volume, see the original call for papers.

2023: Wading Through Necropolitical Sludge

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Happy New Year and welcome to 2024! Followers of this blog will know that it is my usual practice at the start of each year to publish an annual summary of the previous year – with a focus on my activity on the blog. I also mention any other outputs, like publications, social media posts and videos. I have written this sort of summary each year since 2016. Ultimately, this is my way of taking stock of each year, both in terms of what I put out there, and the “out there” that I put the work into. This year’s round up and my activity on the blog in the previous year has been much reduced for many reasons: burnout, twitter’s decline and witnessing annihilation. As such, the annual summary itself is short, but I will conclude some thoughts on law and the persistence of annihilation in its name.

What does it mean to dream of new anticolonial worlds from within the law school?

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This was a conversation between myself and Beth Kamunge-Kpodo that happened at Queen Mary University, London School of Law on the 8th of February 2023. The conversation was part of The School of Law Anti-racist working group and the Staff Seminar Series. The published version of the conversation first appeared in the Critical Legal Theory Blog on the 1st of July 2023. In this conversation we talk about the last three chapters of Decolonisation and Legal knowledge: Reflections on power and possibility. Bristol University Press, 2023.

How do We Find the Right Language and Tools for Decolonisation in Legal Education?

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On and in the days following 29 November 1781, due to diminishing water and food supplies, the captain of the Zong ordered to be thrown overboard, approximately 130 African captives. Thereafter, the ship owners attempted to claim in court, those deaths in insurance as lost cargo – £30 per person. The underlying unquestioned presumption in the ensuing court-case, Gregson v Gilbert (1783), was stated by Solicitor General John Lee before the court, ‘a portion of our fellow-creatures may become the subject of property.’ Consequently, this case was brought to court on facts of mass murder but was decided on legal principles of insurance only. It has become the subject of many non-legal commentaries, yet it hardly ever finds its way into the law classroom.

“In Words the Subaltern Cannot Speak”: Can we use decolonisation to uncover the silences and absences in legal knowledge?

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This was a conversation between myself and Katie Bales that happened at Queen Mary University, London School of Law on the 8th of February 2023. The conversation was part of The School of Law Anti-racist working group and the Staff Seminar Series. The published version of the conversation first appeared in the Critical Legal Theory Blog on the 1st of July 2023. In this conversation we talk about the first three chapters of Decolonisation and Legal knowledge: Reflections on power and possibility. Bristol University Press, 2023.