Fall 2024

The Law of Colonialism

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-278


This course examines law, courts, and legal encounters in colonial contexts. We will focus on European empires and their colonies around the world in both the early modern and modern periods. We will study the inner workings of colonialism through a critical examination of the legal practices of colonial empires. Students will learn how colonial legal cultures legitimized, enshrined and sustained colonial violence and how colonized subjects navigated these fraught legal landscapes. How did the law make colonial rule possible and conversely how did it contribute to the dismantling of such rule? We will address these questions through case studies covering a broad variety of colonial sites including early modern Latin America and the colonial Atlantic, French West (and North) Africa, British India, and the modern Middle East during the Mandate period. 

Limited to 30 students. Fall Semester. Professor Ben Ismail.

How to handle overenrollment: Priortiy given to LJST Majors

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Students will likely encounter and be expected to engage in written work (e.g. response papers, blog posts, book reviews) and short oral presentations.

Course Materials


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2024