Through quasi-inquisitorial procedures for identifying particular subjects as criminals, law at the Cape circa 1795-1810 fashioned hierarchies of criminals in the name of a particular sovereign’s justice. This research programme will explore – by reviewing official records of criminal cases – how law claimed to serve a sovereignly endorsed social order while simultaneously authorizing particular visions of sovereignty. Focussing on this seeming paradox of crime-focused law at the Cape, the project will examine how colonial sovereignty, in part, emerged out of legal rituals, idioms and institutions mobilized against criminal acts. It will follow this governmental logic to indicate the political role that crime-creating strategies continue to play in postcolonial contexts.
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Crime-focused Law and Colonial Sovereignty at the Cape of Good Hope, circa 1795-1810
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