Decolonizing Law? Methods, Tactics & Strategies

Dr. John Borrows, Professor Sujith Xavier, Dr. Usha Natarajan, Dr. Valarie Waboose

Colonialism, imperialism, and settler colonialism continue to affect the lives of people around the world. Law has played an active role in the dispossession and disenfranchisement of colonized people. Law and its various institutions are the means by which colonial, imperial, and settler colonial programs continue to be reinforced and sustained. Law has the potential to decolonize our respective communities and societies. There are recent and historical examples in which law has played a significant role in dismantling colonial and imperial structures set up during the process of colonization. Nevertheless, law has not been successful in completing the de-colonial processes.

Our conference explored synergies and divergences relating to the meaning and scope of decolonization at the intersection of both Indigenous and Third World de-colonial movements. Speakers included Dr. John Borrows from the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria,  Dr. Usha Natarajan from the Department of Law, American University of Cairo,  Dr. Liliana Obregón from Los Andes University in Colombia and Dr. Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark from the University of Victoria. We sought to transcend disciplinary boundaries and explore various conceptions of decolonization with scholars, writers, and activists working within and from the Global South and Indigenous communities. Questions leading our gathering included:  

  • Is decolonization of law(s) possible?
  • Is decolonization of law(s) warranted?
  • How can we decolonize law(s)?
  • What does the decolonization of law(s) look like?
  • What type of law(s) ought to be decolonized?
  • Who will decolonize law(s)?
  • How have scholars and activists deployed the term decolonization in law (and society)?
  • Can the array of movements of Indigenous Peoples and the peoples of the Global South working to decolonize, stand in solidarity with one another within the process of decolonization?
  • What are the various methods, tactics and strategies in decolonizing law and the respective societies it governs?

Click here to view the conference program.
Click here to view the participant list.

Conference Organizers:
Amaya Alvez Marin, Faculty of Law/CRHIAM, Universidad de Concepción
Amar Bhatia, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
Karen Drake, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
Signa Daum Shanks, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
Jeffrey Hewitt, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor
Valarie Waboose, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor
Sujith Xavier, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor