LAWYERS AND COLONIALISM: RETHINKING LEGAL PROFESSIONS FROM THE BRITISH MODEL THROUGH THE CANADIAN AND INDIAN COLONIES
By Mr. W. Wesley Pue
The newly emergent fields of lawyers and colonialism (eg. McQueen and Pue, eds., Misplaced Traditions: The Legal Profession and the British Empire, Symposium Issue, 16(1) Law in Context, 1999) and cultural histories of legal professions (eg. Pue and Sugarman, eds., Lawyers and Vampires, 2003) identify the centrality of culture - especially the cultures of imperialism - in the work and lives of lawyers.
Though scholarship on colonialism and post-colonialism has long recognized "culture's" importance in imperial processes (egs., G. Viswanathan, (1989) Masks of Conquest ; A. McClintock, E. Said, Bernard Cohn) and also the importance of law in imperial projects (egs. E. Darian-Smith, P. Fitzpatrick, D. Harris; Pue, ed., "Postcolonial Legal Studies", symposium issue of Law, Social Justice & Global Development, April 2003: http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/global/issue/2003-1/contents.htm ), there has been little work on the role of lawyers and their professional associations vis-à-vis the imperial project. Recent Canadian research reveals that elite colonial lawyers imagined themselves central players in the cultural projects of imperialism. They sought to shape their profession and its institutions in ways that would advance the project of rendering potentially ungovernable colonial spaces and unruly peoples "governable". Although similar motivations were clearly in play in Palestine as well as in Australian, African, and Asian colonies in a similar period, no existing paradigm of professionalism fully takes account of such processes or motivations.
This paper argues for the utility of comparing legal professions "inter-colonially" and, in particular, the utility of "theorizing" professions and colonialism in India against the backdrop of questions raised from the Canadian experience.
About the Speaker
Mr. W. Wesley Pue
W. Wesley Pue is Professor of Law and Nemetz Chair in Legal History at the University of British Columbia. His research interests include matters related to legal professions and colonialism, legal history, police powers, constitutionalism & dissent, and public accountability of state officials.