The Jurisprudence of Emergency: Colonialism and the Rule of Law

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University of Michigan Press, Nov 11, 2009 - History - 192 pages

Ever-more-frequent calls for the establishment of a rule of law in the developing world have been oddly paralleled by the increasing use of "exceptional" measures to deal with political crises. To untangle this apparent contradiction, The Jurisprudence of Emergency analyzes the historical uses of a range of emergency powers, such as the suspension of habeas corpus and the use of military tribunals. Nasser Hussain focuses on the relationship between "emergency" and the law to develop a subtle new theory of those moments in which the normative rule of law is suspended.

The Jurisprudence of Emergency examines British colonial rule in India from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century in order to trace tensions between the ideology of liberty and government by law, which was used to justify the British presence, and the colonizing power's concurrent insistence on a regime of conquest. Hussain argues that the interaction of these competing ideologies exemplifies a conflict central to all Western legal systems—between the universal, rational operation of law on the one hand and the absolute sovereignty of the state on the other. The author uses an impressive array of historical evidence to demonstrate how questions of law and emergency shaped colonial rule, which in turn affected the development of Western legality.

The pathbreaking insights developed in The Jurisprudence of Emergency reevaluate the place of colonialism in modern law by depicting the colonies as influential agents in the interpretation and delineation of Western ideas and practices. Hussain's interdisciplinary approach and subtly shaded revelations will be of interest to historians as well as scholars of legal and political theory.



The Historical and Theoretical Background
Chapter 2 The Colonial Concept of Law
Habeas Corpus and the Colonial Judiciary
Violence and the Limit
Conclusion A Postcolonial Postscript
Appendix A The Administrative Structure of Justice in British India
Appendix B The History of NineteenthCentury Legal Codification in British India

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About the author (2009)

Nasser Hussain was Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought at Amherst College.

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