Dr Maria Giannacopoulos - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dr Maria Giannacopoulos

Dr. Maria Giannacopoulos is Senior Lecturer in Sociolegal Studies in the College of Business Government and Law at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. She has published widely on the coloniality of law and was special issue co-editor (with Professor Biko Agozino) of Globalizations ‘Law, Love and Decolonization’. 

On not loving law: Nomocide and the Non-performativity of colonial law 

In 2018 I convened a roundtable discussion at Flinders University, on Kaurna country, the theme of which was Law, Love and Decolonisation. In the special issue that followed I argued that that ‘law’ is in need of decolonization, especially those law systems structuring settler colonial societies and invisibly operating as dispossessing machineries. Yet while it is widely understood that Australian law is colonial law, ‘law’ is more often loved than critiqued, even by those who do occasionally critique it. I have named this phenomenon nomophilia, a blind love of law that is deeply invested in maintaining the fantasy of law as a neutral framework disconnected from colonial violence.  

Here I seek to build on this work by adding the concepts of nomocide and nonperformativity into the mix. By deploying these concepts, colonial law will be revealed as a deathly mechanism that does not do what it says it does. I argue that far from ensuring peace and order colonial law is nomocidal (deathly) especially to those it dispossesses. The retheorisation of colonial law is central to the task of decolonisation in all fields of study as all fields intersect with law. Here I briefly discuss the necessity of this task for critical migration and refugee studies given that much work in this area advocates for refugee and migrant rights on Indigenous lands where sovereignty and law have never been ceded.