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HKU Law Welcomes Dr Shane Chalmers, Assistant Professor

Welcome to Dr Shane Chalmers who joined the Faculty of Law as an Assistant Professor of Law! Dr Chalmers, PhD, Australian National University, 2016, LLM, McGill University, 2011, LLB (Hons), University of Adelaide, 2010, BIntSt, University of Adelaide, 2007, a scholar of law and the humanities, has a critical focus on the legacies of European colonialism for laws and societies today. His work has significantly contributed to the sub-fields of law and colonialism, law and development, and critical legal theory. He is also a long-standing member, and currently a Vice President, of the Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia.

     Dr Chalmers is the author of Liberia and the Dialectic of
Law: Critical Theory, Pluralism, and the Rule of Law
(Routledge, 2018). The
book, based on his doctoral thesis, examines the legal formation of Liberia,
from its conception as an idea of liberty in the nineteenth century, through
its establishment as a republic in the twentieth century, to its post-war reconstruction
at the beginning of the twenty-first century with assistance of an
international intervention to establish a state based on the rule of law. The
book contributes a critical understanding of the role of law in the formation
of Liberia, and the implications of the state’s historical formation for law
and justice today, in Liberia and other international development contexts.
     Dr Chalmers is currently completing a second monograph, The
Antipodes: A Carnivalesque Jurisprudence of a Settler Colonial Imaginary
, which
examines the legal imaginary that shaped and was shaped by the colonisation of
Australia in the nineteenth century. The book shows how this imaginary worked
to dispossess, dehumanise, and disempower First Nations through its forms of
property, dignity, and sovereignty; and it aims to unsettle these legal forms,
and open them up to reimagination. In doing so, it develops a new kind of
jurisprudence – a carnivalesque jurisprudence – which uses the Bakhtinian
figures of the clown, the fool, and the rogue to examine and represent the
colonial legal imaginary, using an idiom of laughter that is critically potent
as well as generative.
     Since joining the University of Hong Kong, Shane’s research
has begun to focus on how an imperial imaginary sustained the authority of law
in British colonies in East and Southeast Asia, and how disruptions within this
imaginary by local artists worked to disrupt the legal authority of the British
     Dr Chalmers is also editor (with Sundhya Pahuja) of The
Routledge Handbook of International Law and the Humanities
(Routledge, 2021);
and he is currently editing a collection of essays (with Desmond Manderson) on
“Colonial Legal Imaginaries | Southern Literary Futures”.
     His Research areas include:

  •          Law and Humanities
  •          Law and Colonialism
  •          International Law and Development
  •          Critical Legal Theory

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