LL4EA      Half Unit
Race, Class, and Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Roxana Willis


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places and we cannot guarantee all students will get a place.

Course content

Course Structure

There are ten substantive topics that will be covered by this course, taught through a combination of lectures and interactive seminars. The first week addresses the question ‘What is law?’ from the perspective of dominant legal theory as well as critical schools of thought, including feminist, Marxist, and socio-legal. The second week works towards a decolonial agenda for law, offering a genealogy of key decolonial thinkers and applying their thinking to the law. The third week turns to the historical making of modern law, with a focus on the legal subject and the criminalised ‘immoral other’. Over the remaining weeks, students then examine the legal subject as it occurs in overlapping legal fields, including property rights and land, labour law and immigration, welfare and housing, crime and criminal justice, climate justice and the Anthropocene, and indigenous justice movements. We conclude the course by reflecting on recent calls for abolition.


20 hours of seminars in the AT.

Formative coursework

Students will submit a formative assessment in the second part of the course in the form of an abstract and essay outline.

Indicative reading

  1. Bhambra, G. (2007) Rethinking modernity: Postcolonialism and the sociological imagination. Berlin: Springer.
  2. Adébísí, F. (2023) Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge Reflections on Power and Possibility, Bristol University Press.
  3. Harrison, F. V. (Ed.) (2010) Decolonizing Anthropology - Moving Further toward an Anthropology for Liberation (Third ed.). Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association.
  4. Bhattacharyya, G., Elliott-Cooper, A., Balani, S., Nişancıoğlu, K., Koram, K., Gebrial, D., El-Enany, N. and de Noronha, L. (2021). Empire's Endgame: Racism and the British State. London: Pluto Press.
  5. Elliot-Cooper, A. (2021) Black resistance to British Policing, Manchester University Press.
  6. Gopal, P. (2019) Insurgent Empire: anticolonial Resistance and British dissent, Verso Books.
  7. Bradley and De Noronha (2022) Against borders: the case for abolition. Verso Books.
  8. Willis, R. (2023) A Precarious Life: Community and conflict in a deindustrialised town, OUP.
  9. Koch, I. (2018), Personalizing the state: An anthropology of law, politics, and welfare in austerity Britain, OUP.
  10. Klinkert, V. L. (2021). ‘Humbling anthropology: Ego reflexivus and White ignorance.’ HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 11(1), 309-318.


Essay (100%, 6000 words) in the ST.

Students will devise their own essay title, with support and feedback from the lecturer. Students are expected to engage with readings across at least two weeks of the course and students are encouraged to research beyond the essential readings.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills