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Renisa Mawani has a PhD from the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto. She is Professor and Tier I Canada Research Chair in Colonial Legal Histories in the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, located on the occupied territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples.


She is a Faculty Associate at the Social Justice Institute and has affiliations with the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program, the Law and Society Minor Program, and the Science and Technology Studies Program at UBC.




other publications


Edited Volumes

Special Issues

  • 2019  "Worlds at Home: On Cosmopolitan Futures," Journal of Intercultural Studies, 40(5), co-edited with Sheila Giffen and Christopher Lee.

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


Articles and Book Chapters


  • "The Law of the Sea: Oceans, Ships, and the Anthropocene," in P. Burdon & J. Martel, The Routledge Handbook of Law and the Anthropocene (Routledge), 115-129.

  • "Gale,” in C. Shaw and E. Turpin (eds.), The Work of Wind: Sea (Berlin: K. Verlag), 256 – 281.

  • “The Pandemic and the Ship,” in C. Stychin (ed.), Law, Humanities, and the Covid Crisis (London: University of London Press - with Mikki Stelder)


  • “The Slave, the Ship, the Legal Person,” Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, 87: 19-42.

  • “Navigating Colonial Law in a ‘Sea of Islands,’” Law and Social Inquiry, 47(1): 355- 361.

  • “From Migrants to Revolutionaries: The Komagata Maru’s 1914 ‘Middle Passage’,” in W. Walters, C. Heller, and L. Pezzani (eds.), Viapolitics: Borders, Migration and the Power of Locomotion (Durham: Duke University Press, 2021), 58-83.


  • "Oceans as Method: Law, Violence, and Climate Catastrophe," in L. Lambert (ed.), The Funambulist, Issue 29: The Ocean: From the Black Atlantic to the Sea of Islands.

  • “Unruly Oceans: Law, Violence, and Sovereignty at Sea,” TWAILR: Third World Approaches to International Law Review (with Sebastian Prange). 


  • “From Slave Revolts to Social Death,” Theory and Society, 48(6), 835-849.

  • “Introduction: Worlds at Home: On Cosmopolitan Futures,” Journal of Intercultural Studies, 40(5), 525-533 (with Sheila Giffen & Christopher Lee).

  • “Worlds at Home: An interview with Sneja Gunew by Christopher Lee and Renisa Mawani,” Journal of Intercultural Studies, 40(5), 638-647.

  • "Postcolonial Studies." In S. Stern, M. Del Mar, B. Meyler (eds). The Oxford Handbook on Law and the Humanities (Oxford University Press), 105-124.

  • “The Politics of Empire: Minor History on a Global Scale.” In R. Dhamoon, D. Bhandar, R. Mawani, and S. Bains (eds). Unmooring the Komagata Maru: Charting Colonial Trajectories (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press).



  • “Ships at Sea.” In Philippe Tortell, Mark Turin, & Margot Young (eds.). Memory (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press).

  • “Insect Wars: Bees, Bedbugs, and Biopolitics.” In Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Law and Theory (Routledge).

  • “Archival Legal History: Towards the Ocean as Archive.” In Marcus Dubber and Christopher Tomlins (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Historical Legal Research (Oxford University Press).

  • "From Slave Revolts to Social Death," Trajectories, 30(1), Autumn 2018



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

  • “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.



  • “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.

  • “Law and Migration Across the Pacific: Narrating the Komagata Maru Outside and Beyond the Nation.” In 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.

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

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

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



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

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

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

  • “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.



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

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

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



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

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



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



  • “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, and Mike DeGagne (eds), Cultivating Canada. (Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series, 2011). 



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



  • “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.



  • “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 (ed), Ethnography and Law (London: Ashgate, 2007).



  • “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.

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



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

    • Reprinted in Denise Ferreira Da Silva and Mark Harris (eds), Postcolonialism and the Law (Routledge, 2017).

  • 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.

  • “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.



  • “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.

  • “‘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.

  • “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, (Canadian Scholars Press, 2006).



  • “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.

News and Events


Department of Sociology

The University of British Columbia

6303 NW Marine Drive

Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Territory

Vancouver, B.C.

V7V 4X2

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