Research Topics

Colonial Legal History; Critical Theory, Race and Racism; Affect; Time and Temporality; Oceans and Maritime Worlds; Indigeneity; Colonial India and the Diaspora; Posthumanism

Research Interests

My research is organized along two trajectories.

The first meets at the interface of critical theory and legal history. To date, my work has aimed to write histories of indigenous displacement and non-European migration (from China and India, in particular) as conjoined and entangled colonial legal processes central to settler colonialism. My first book, Colonial Proximities (2009), details legal encounters between aboriginal peoples, Chinese migrants, Europeans, and those enumerated as “mixed race” along Canada’s west coast. The book considers how state racisms are produced and mobilized through land, law, and labour in colonial sites of heterogeneity. The book critically engages Foucault’s formulation of biopolitics and state racisms.

My current book, Across Oceans of Law, traces the mobility of law and the movements of British Indian migrants across the British Empire. Focused on the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-centuries and drawing together the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans, this book uses oceans and time as conceptual frames to examine colonial migrations through race, globality, and indigeneity. To explore these themes historically the book focuses on the Komagata Maru‘s transoceanic journey in 1914 and the jurisdictional struggles in which it was embedded.

My second set of interests, “legalities of nature,” coalesce at the juncture of science, law, and history. To date, I have written a series of articles on law and nature through parks and place. A central concern has been the dispossession of aboriginal peoples and the ways in which colonial violence has been effected through racial, legal, civic, and state claims to nature, identity, and wilderness. My current research pursues the legalities of nature through philosophy and entomology to explore the appropriation of holometabolous insects as labouring bodies in contemporary geopolitics. Focused on global food production, climate change, and forms of war, this project draws from anticolonial writings and postcolonial theory and places them in conversation with the philosophy of time, movement, and change in the work Henri Bergson.

You can access an early version here:

Recent Awards

2015-2016    Wall Scholar, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.

2015-2017    Hampton Research Grant Award for “Insect Jurisprudence.”

2015-2016    Dean of Arts Faculty Research Award for Across Oceans of Law. The Faculty of Arts issues four awards per year, two at the Assistant/Associate level and two at the Full professor level, to allow research faculty one semester to concentrate entirely on research without teaching or administrative duties.

2014-2015    Killam Teaching Prize for Graduate Instruction. One Killam Teaching Prize is awarded annually to a faculty member at UBC, in recognition of excellent graduate-level teaching.



n.d.  Across Oceans of Law: The Komagata Maru and Jurisdiction in the Time of Empire (under contract with Duke University Press).

2009 Colonial Proximities: Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871-1921  (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press).

Edited Volumes

n.d.  Charting Imperial Itineraries: Unmooring the Komagata Maru, 1914-2014 (Under contract with University of British Columbia Press and co-edited with Rita Dhamoon, Davina Bhandar, and Satwinder Bains).

2014  “Indian Ocean Circuits of Law,” Law and History Review, 32(4) (Co-edited with Iza Hussin).

Articles and Book Chapters

n.d. “The Politics of Empire: Minor History on a Global Scale.” In R. Dhamoon, D. Bhandar, R. Mawani, and S. Bains (eds). Charting Imperial Itineraries: Unmooring the Komagata Maru, 1914-2014 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press).

n.d. “Insect Knowledges and War Machines.” In Denise Ferreira Da Silva and Mark Harris (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Law, Race, and the Postcolonial (London: Routledge).

2016. “Law, Settler Colonialism, and ‘the Forgotten Space’ of Maritime Worlds.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 12, 107-131.

2016 “Criminal Accusation as Colonial Rule: The Case of Gurdit Singh.” In George Pavlich and Matthew Unger (eds.), Accusation: Making Criminals (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press), 73-99.

2015 “Insects, War, Plastic Life.” In Brenna Bhandar and Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller (eds.). Plastic Materialities: Politics, Legality, and Metamorphosis in the Work of Catherine Malabou (Durham: Duke University Press), 159-188.

2015 “Law and Migration Across the Pacific: Narrating the Komagata Maru Outside and Beyond the Nation,” Adele Perry, Karen Dubinsky, and Henry Yu (eds.), Within and Without the Nation: Canadian History as Transnational History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 253-275.

2015 “Bee Workers and the Expanding Edges of Capitalism.” In Leopold Lambert (ed.), The Funambulist Papers (Punctum Books). Read an online version here.

2015. “Law and Colonialism: Legacies and Lineages.” In Austin Sarat and Patricia Ewick (eds). Law and Society Handbook (Malden: John Wiley and Sons), 417-432.

2015 “The Times of Law.” Law and Social Inquiry, 40(1), 253-263.

2014 “The Travels of Law: Indian Ocean Itineraries,”(co-authored with Iza Hussin). Introduction to Forum Issue, Law and History Review, 32(4), 733-747.

2014 “Patterns of Empire and the Politics of Comparison,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, 34(3), 618-625.

2014 “Law as Temporality: Colonial Politics and Indian Settlers,” University of California Irvine Law Review, 4(1), 101-130.

2014 “Sovereignties in Dispute: The Komagata Maru and Spectral Indigeneities, 1914.” In Shaunnagh Dorsett and John McLaren (eds.), Legal Histories of the British Empire: Laws, Engagements, and Legacies (London: Routledge), 107-123.

2012 “Racial Violence and the Cosmopolitan City,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30(6), 1083-1102.

2012 “Law’s Archive,” Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 8, 337-365.

2012 “Specters of Indigeneity in British Indian Migration, 1914” Law and Society Review, 46(2), 369-403.

2010 “‘Half-Breeds,’ Racial Opacity, and Geographies of Crime: Law’s Search for the ‘Original’ Indian,” Cultural Geographies, 17(4), 487-506.

2010 “On Postcolonialism and Criminology,”(co-authored with David Sealy). In Kirsten Kramar (ed.), Criminology: Critical Canadian Perspectives (Toronto, Pearson).

2009 “The Sociological Imagination and its Imperial Shadows,” (co-authored with Thomas Kemple), Theory, Culture, and Society, 26, 228-249.

2008 “Cross Racial Encounters and Juridical Truths: (Dis)Aggregating Race in British Columbia’s Colonial Contact Zone,” BC Studies (Special Issue on ‘Refracting Pacific Canada’), 156/157, 141-171.

  •  Reprinted in Ashok Mathur, Jonathan Dewar, & Mike DeGagne (eds.), Cultivating Canada. (Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series, 2011). 

2007 “Legalities of Nature: Law, Empire, and Wilderness Landscapes in Canada,” Social Identities, 13(6), 715-734.

2006 “Screening out Diseased Bodies: Immigration, Mandatory HIV Testing and the Making of a Healthy Canada.” In Alison Bashford (ed) Medicine at the Border: Disease, Globalization, and Security, 1850 to the Present (London & New York: Palgrave), 136-158.

2005 “Genealogies of the Land: Aboriginality, Law, and Territory in Vancouver’s Stanley Park,” Social and Legal Studies, 14(3), 315-340.

  •  Reprinted in Eve Darian-Smith, Ethnography and Law (London: Ashgate, 2007).

2004 “From Colonialism to Multiculturalism?: Totem Poles, Tourism, and National Identity in Vancouver’s Stanley Park,” ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, (Special Issue on Law, Literature and Postcoloniality) 35(1-2), 2006, 31-57.

2004 “‘Cleansing the Conscience of the People’: Reading Head Tax Redress in Multicultural Canada,” Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 19(2), 127-151.

2003 “Imperial Legacies (Post)Colonial Identities: Law, Space, and the Making of Stanley Park, 1859-2001,” Law/Text/Culture, 7, 98-141.

2003 “Island of the Unclean: Race, Colonialism, and ‘Chinese Leprosy’ in British Columbia, 1891-1924,” Journal of Law, Social Justice, and Global Development, 1, 1-21.

2003 “Legal Geographies of Aboriginal Segregation in British Columbia: The Making and Unmaking of the Songhees Reserve.” In Carolyn Strange & Alison Bashford (eds), Isolation: Places and Practices of Exclusion (London & New York: Routledge), 173-190.

2002 “In Between and Out of Place: Mixed-Race Identity, Liquor, and the Law in British Columbia, 1850-1913.” In Sherene H. Razack (ed.), Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society (Toronto: Between the Lines), 47-69.

2002 “‘The Iniquitous Practice of Women’: Prostitution and the Making of White Spaces in British Columbia, 1898-1905.” In Cynthia Levine-Rasky (ed.), Working Through Whiteness: International Perspectives (New York: SUNY Press), 43-68.

2002 “Regulating the Respectable Classes?: Venereal Disease, Gender, and Public Health Initiatives in Canada, 1914-1935.” In John McLaren, Robert Menzies, & Dorothy E. Chunn (eds.), Regulating Lives: Historical Essays on the State, Society, and the Individual (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press), 170-195.

  • Winner of the Hilda Neatby Prize (best article contribution to Women’s History) from the Canadian Historical Association, 2003
  • Reprinted in A. Glasbeek (ed) Moral Regulation in Canada, (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2006).

2000 “In Between and Out of Place: Racial Hybridity, Liquor, and the Law in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century British Columbia,” Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 15(2), 9-38.

Winter 2017

SOCI470A Sociology of Crime and Justice - CRIME & JUSTICE Sections

Critical examination of specific forms of crime and delinquency in relation to the criminal justice system including law, enforcement, and corrections. Issues selected for study will be further scrutinized within the cultural framework of ethics, morality, and social justice.

Winter 2017

SOCI501 Contemporary Sociological Theory Sections

Teaching Areas

Law and Society/ Criminology, Social and Cultural Theory, Sociology of Knowledge and Culture, Political Philosophies of Law and Justice


Ph.D., University of Toronto
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Toronto

Other Affiliations

  • Faculty Associate, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies
  • Faculty Associate, Liu Institute for Global Issues
  • Faculty Associate, Institute for Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Justice
  • Faculty Associate, Green College