Symposium The Empire of Law

Legality and Other Narrative Tools of Colonialism

Silence is seldom the primary weapon of imperial powers. It is the production of a discourse, consisting of chronicles, anthropologic studies, historiography and legal treatises, that guarantees the control of information and the continuity of systems and institutes of oppression.

Concepts of law and justice play an important role in the discourse since they articulate and regularize colonial violence. The Law of the Indies of 1512 and The Berlin Act of 1885 are clear examples. Yet, also today the idea of justice is used to approve violent migratory control policies, including the strengthening of the persecution, detention and deportation of persons.

The conference The Empire of Law. Legality and Other Narrative Tools of Colonialism deals with the subject of law, justice and colonialism from a decolonial and antiracist perspective. More specifically, it focuses on dominant European narratives and notions of humanitarianism, philanthropy, human rights and charity as strategies that strengthen white supremacy and institutional and colonial racism rather than challenge it.

Keynote speakers

We are happy to welcome Walter Andino, Yuderkys Espinosa, Olivia Rutazibwa and Daniela Ortiz.

Walter Andino studied sociology and philosophy in Honduras and international development and intercultural management in Belgium. He is active at the non-profit organizations Motief, Minderhedenforum and Movement X. As an activist, he fights for a fair and inclusive intercultural society, free of racism and exclusion.

Yuderkys Espinosa is an activist, academic and one of the leading voices in the field of Decolonial Feminism. She is co-founder of the Grupo Latinoamericano de Estudios y Acción en Sexualidades, Género y Cultura (GLEFAS) and co-editor of the volume "Tejiendo de otro modo: Feminismo, epistemología y apuestas decoloniales en Abya Yala". Her work has been published in a wide range of international journals and she has been invited as a visiting professor by universities all over the world.

Olivia Rutazibwa is a senior lecturer in International Development and European Studies at the University of Portsmouth. Her research has focused on the motivations and effects of western ethical foreign policy in the Global South. She started her PhD research ‘In the Name of Human Rights. The Problematics of EU Ethical Foreign Policy in Africa and Elsewhere’ at the European University Institute in Florence (2001), did an internship at DG RELEX of the European Commission (2003), was a Visiting Fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris and did fieldwork in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somaliland. From 2010 to 2013, she was a journalist at the Brussels based monthly magazine, MO*.