Colloquium: Spatial justice in the postcolony

15 Jan 2016
15 Jan 2016

The Law Faculty and Huma invite you to the

Spatial Justice in the Postcolony Colloquium: 14-15 April 2016

Stream Convenors:

Julia Chryssostalis (Westminster Law School, University of Westminster, United Kingdom) and

Jaco Barnard-Naudé (Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Despite the undisputed recognition, in an era designated as post-colonial, that the founding act of colonialism was and is the appropriation of space, the nexus between colonialism (as a Law-founding violence) and spatiality has remained largely unexplored within legal studies.

To take the example of South Africa: at one end, dominant ‘jurisprudential’ discussions represent the transition as the replacement of an authoritarian government and a system of racialised capitalism with a liberal democratic government and a racially ‘neutral, albeit neoliberally skewed, political economy. The work of transformation in the face of the legacy of colonialism here is regarded reductively as the undoing of the legal apparatus of oppression through the institutionalisation of democracy, fundamental human rights, a substantive rule of law and juridicised processes of an ill-defined ‘reconciliation’. The predominant focus on ‘constitutionalism’ (‘transformative’ as it may be) has meant that the discourse has found it difficult to move beyond a narrow institutional account and consideration of Law.

The critique of the neoliberal hegemony that has replaced and displaced colonialism too often stop short of addressing the specificity of colonialism as consisting in the way in which it translated the racist and classist normativity of its order into a concrete reality of divided racial and class ordering that was spatially entrenched. This connection between law as a normative order and its concrete, spatial instantiation grounded in the soil, is what Carl Schmitt calls nomos. For Schmitt, nomos is a word that names law’s ‘terrestrial fundament’, the unity of space and law, of order and localization. More specifically, nomos is ‘the immediate form in which the political and social order of a people becomes spatially visible’ , full immediacy of a legal power unmediated by laws’. The ubiquitous spatial injustice of continuing conditions of de facto segregation and exploitation in the post-colony suggest that the basic spatial injustice that lies at its core has not been superseded. Therefore, the question of post- colonial spatial justice becomes central to facing the challenges of transformation.

We are interested in how the convergence of the burgeoning literature on spatial justice and post colonialism impact upon one another. Papers will explore the links between spatial justice in the post-colony and what Ranciére has called the politics of aesthetics and the aesthetics of politics.

RSVP for attendance and catering by 30 March 2016 to