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Legacies of the Nomos of Apartheid is a workshop funded by the British Academy Newton Advanced Fellowship Scheme.

Long before the so-called ‘spatial turn’ in the Humanities, Carl Schmitt, in The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum, famously traces the origins of the Greek word for law, nomos, to nemein and its double semantic grammar of (land) ‘distribution’ and ‘pasture’, in order to retrieve the word’s ‘original spatial character’ (75) and the fundamental ‘unity of space and law, order and orientation’ (42).

An account of nomos as spatial order grounded in land-appropriation, provides the basis in The Nomos of the Earth not only for a concrete theory of law but also for a historical account of modern international law – the first ‘nomos of the earth in the true sense’ (51). For although, according to Schmitt, ‘[t]here had always been some kind of nomos of the earth’ (351), it was only after the European appropriations of land and sea with the discovery of the New World in the fifteenth and sixteenth century that a spatial ordering of the world as a whole took place.

Nomos has an important critical role to play in exploring the ubiquity of injustice in a post-colonial context: the demarcations, inequalities and exclusions that mark the post-colonial space, both in the metropolis and in the former colonies. Post-Apartheid South Africa is a case in point. More than twenty years after the institutional closure of the apartheid order and the enactment of a transformative constitution, concrete spatial visibilities, orientations and relations remain largely untransformed and worryingly similar to their former apartheid instantiations.

In a broader context, whereas existing literature has examined space, spatial justice and different aspects of post-colonial law, there is still very little at the moment on the nexus between post-coloniality and spatial justice. Our focus on the legacies of the nomos of apartheid is therefore a starting point in order to begin a conversation about and an examination of different nomoi of the post-colony and what spatial justice entails in specific post-colonial contexts.

Register for a free ticket via Eventbrite.

For more information, contact Julia Chryssostalis at [email protected]

Download the event programme (PDF).


  • Brenna Bhandar (School of Law, SOAS)
  • Jaco Barnard-Naudé (Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town)
  • Julia Chryssostalis (School of Law, University of Westminster)
  • Sarah Keenan (School of Law, Birkbeck College)
  • Andreas Philippopoulos–Mihalopoulos (School of Law, University of Westminster)
  • Jacqueline Rose (Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities)