Historically, British colonialism focused on bringing the rule of law to its colonies, but used violence as the main means of control. The question of the force of power versus the force of law is a main point of focus for historians and political theorists of British colonialism.
Keally McBride, associate professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco and author, lectured on “Colonialism and the Rule of Law.” April 27, at 12 p.m. McBride lectured to an audience of 16 people in 240C McKenzie Hall. Graduate students, Undergraduates and department faculty were all present at the lecture.
“My research interests are slowly colliding with one another,” said McBride describing her points of focus in her research. British colonialism historically reveals two tendencies: emphasis that Britain didn’t believe in rule of law on its colonies as they used violence that revealed truth that undermined the laws, and that they did believe in law but bent the laws for necessity.
McBride extends her research to cover the colonialism into India and Sierra Leon. She further explained the historical significance of Zachary MacCoulay, T.B. MacCoulay, James Stephen and James Fitzjames Stephen and their influence one the execution of the penal code on the British colonies. The rule of law and the sanctity of property rights in the colonies have been muddled by the indigenous police force and the British legal administration.
The rule of the law is tainted and gets complex when considering the execution of the law, including loopholes, exceptions and the historically corrupted administration. The rule of law has become a “hornet’s nest” said McBride. McBride provided the example that 90 percent of the people in jail in India have never been charged for any crime. The penal code system has not been modified since colonialism.
“I have more sympathy for the British now than when I started the research,” McBride said. “I don’t know what that means though.”
Political Science department faculty member Anita Chari attended the lecture. “I’m interested in the critiques of colonialism, new perspectives, and the abstract way of using history for analysis,” Chari said. The Department of Political Science sponsored the even as part of the Foster Political Science Speaker Series.
University of Oregon Junior sociology major Keara O’Malley attended the lecture Friday afternoon. “I thought it was interesting how she related how the laws were written to how the British manipulated them.”
After the lecture concluded the audience participated in an interactive Question and Answer with McBride. Main topics of discussion focused around the British law and how the indigenous police interpreted it and the misguided executions.