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Professor Stewart Motha

  • Overview

    Overview

    Biography

    Stewart Motha was Executive Dean of Birkbeck Law School, 2016-22; and Managing Editor of Law & Critique, 2015-2020. He has published widely on issues of sovereignty, memory, history, and decolonisation. In 2022-23 he holds the John Hinkley Visiting Chair at Johns Hopkins University advancing a project on the autonomy and heteronomy of law with respect to extractive economies.

    Prior to joining Birkbeck in 2012, Stewart taught at Kent Law School. He worked and taught Law in Australia, and was an Associate to the Hon. Justice Margaret Beazley - Judge of the Federal Court of Australia; Case Manager of the Native Title Unit, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Inc., South Australia; and a Consultant to the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action.

    Stewart’s current major project explores the multiple forms and sources of legal norms (heteronomy) as a counter-narrative to liberal accounts of the autonomy of law. This includes challenging the opposition between life/non-life.

    Stewart's book, Archiving Sovereignty: Law, History, Violence (Michigan University Press) was published in 2018. 

    In 2020, he launched a podcast series called COUNTERSIGN. Stewart and guests discuss books, films, and other materials from across disciplines to consider new perspectives on law, difference, and being in common.

    Stewart lectures on Constitutional and Administrative Law; Law, History, and Political Violence; and Critical Approaches to Natural Resource Law.

     

    Highlights

    Office hours

    Mondays 4-5pm

    Qualifications

    • PhD, University of London, 2005
    • BA LLB (Hons), Macquarie University, 1993
    • LLM, Osgoode Hall Law School, 1996

    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Programme Director LLM Intensives
    • Chair of Birkbeck College Ethics Committee
  • Research

    Research

    Research interests

    • Sovereignty
    • Postcolonial law and theory
    • Constitutionalism
    • Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment
    • Law and aesthetics
    • Indian Ocean studies
    • South Asian studies
    • Australian legal studies
    • Transformative justice
    • Problems of law, time and justice
    • Environmental Law and Theory
    • Anthropocene and new materialism
    • Legal Philosophy

    Research overview

    Stewart's book, Archiving Sovereignty: Law, History, Violence (Michigan University Press), arose out of research into how law functions as an archive of sovereign violence. The book also offers an elaboration of the ‘as if’ (the consciously false, or fiction) at the heart of modern law. Reworking the notion of the ‘archive’, the book addresses the sovereign event in Australia, South Africa, and the Indian Ocean region as a problem of law’s capacity to retain and disavow sovereign violence at the same time. This memorial function of law is elaborated through juridical case studies, and literary and other artistic works.


  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching

    Supervision

    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who are interested in undertaking research in any of my areas of research interest.

    If you are interested in pursuing research in any of these areas, you should first read our advice on how to apply for MPhil/PhD research before submitting an application.


    Current doctoral researchers

    • ANNA RAHEL FISCHER
    • CARSON ARTHUR
    • KANIKA GAUBA
    • MICHAEL DARKE
    • PADDY MCDAID

    Doctoral alumni

    • TSHEPO MADLINGOZI

    Teaching

    Teaching modules

    • Connecting the Arts (AREN126S5)
    • Constitutional and Administrative Law (LADD033S4)
    • Constitutional & Administrative Law (Senior Status) (LADD060S6)
    • Constitutional Law in Practice: Regional Perspectives (LADD067S7)
    • Law, History and Political Violence (Senior Status) (LALW075H7)
  • Publications

    Publications

    Article

    Book

    Book Section

    Editorial