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Law and Race


Module description

Law is the principal means through which policies such as austerity, border control, surveillance, gentrification and natural resource extraction are implemented and maintained. Such policies not only disproportionately impact racialised people, they reproduce race as a seemingly ‘natural’ category of human organisation. This module explores the historical role which law has played in the construction of race as a category, and some of the major theoretical and practical questions raised by the intersections between race and law. It provides a space for the thinking about ways in which law upholds structures of race and racism, and for thinking about anti-racist and decolonial strategies within and outside the academy.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Introduction to law and race
    • Theories of race
    • Theories of law and race
  • Historical approaches to understanding race
    • Race, law and colonialism
    • Race, law and slavery
  • Substantive issues of law and race
    • Race and property law
    • Race and criminal law
    • Race, borders and immigration law
    • Race and the regulation of the environment
    • Race in a digitised world
  • Decolonisation, anti-racism, strategies and futures
    • Race, law and resistance
    • Race, law and decolonisation
    • Race, law and solidarity
  • Race, law and imagining futures

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • understand key debates around the question of the relationship between law and race
  • appreciate the theoretical and practical questions raised by the role played by law in stabilising a racial order
  • be able to identify key challenges and debates in policy and practice around the intersections between law and race
  • appreciate the social, political, historical and economic context of race and racialisation
  • be able to identify key conceptual critiques of law’s role in producing and reproducing race and racism
  • be able to critically analyse, evaluate and compare a range of theoretical approaches
  • appreciate the importance of social, historical and cultural contexts for understanding law in theory and practice
  • understand and have skills in law, theory and policy evaluation.