The academic field of postcolonial legal criticism looks at the repercussions of colonialism and imperialism today. In this context, law is seen as a social and cultural construct which changes over time. During the period of colonialization by European states, national and international law developed in a way that made it possible to legitimize for example slavery and genocide. European law, with its often racist elements, spread to many parts of the world in the course of colonialization.
Postcolonial theoreticians show how imperial laws served to cover up colonial violence and how injustice was legitimized through the fig leaf of law. The law was used, for example, to deny indigenous populations in the colonies their status as legal persons. The development of international law was also closely interwoven with colonialization. Postcolonial legal criticism today tries to uncover and challenge colonial continuities in both national and international law.
In colonial times, Germans robbed people in the colonies of their land, their cultural artefacts and their lives. And they stole their family members – in the form of bones and other body parts. They brought them to Europe for racist research purposes. Even today tens of thousands of so-called Ancestors/Human Remains are stored or displayed in German museum archives, universities and private collections.
In the early 20th century, today’s Namibia was a German colony. The Namibian population was massively and systematically discriminated against. Oppression, violence and land grabbing were widespread. ECCHR is working to address colonial crimes in Namibia and Germany’s colonial past.
Cooperation Academy of Fine Arts
The development of international law is closely interwoven with European colonialization. Colonial violence was frequently covered up and injustice developed into a legal system. With the “Koloniales Erbe/Colonial Repercussions” event series, ECCHR examined the structures of colonial power relations, which continue to impact on science, art and society today.
Research & Academia
The anthology Dekoloniale Rechtskritik und Rechtspraxis, which will be published by Nomos Verlag in August 2020, is the first volume to collect fundamental texts on decolonial legal theory. Interdisciplinary theoretical approaches by scholars such as Antony Anghie, Martti Koskenniemi, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui and Makau Mutua are complied in German for the first time.
Research & Academia
The criminal investigation into Lumumba’s assassination is part of a broader context of structural impunity for the crimes committed by European colonial powers during decolonization. While the long-term effects of colonization persist, direct accountability is rarely possible.