Shane Chalmers

Dr Shane Chalmers

Senior Lecturer

Adelaide Law School

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Shane joined Adelaide Law School as a Senior Lecturer in 2021. He is a scholar of law and the humanities, with a critical focus on the implications of European colonialism for laws and societies today. His work has contributed to the sub-fields of law and colonialism, international law and development, and critical legal theory. He is also a long-standing member, and currently a Vice President, of the Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia.

Shane is the author of Liberia and the Dialectic of Law: Critical Theory, Pluralism, and the Rule of Law (Routledge, 2018). The book, based on his doctoral thesis, examines the legal formation of Liberia, from its conception as an idea of liberty in the nineteenth century, through its establishment as a republic in the twentieth century, to its post-war reconstruction at the beginning of the twenty-first century with assistance of an international intervention to establish a state based on the rule of law. The book contributes a critical understanding of the role of law in the formation of Liberia, and the implications of the state’s historical formation for law and justice today, in Liberia and other international development contexts.

Shane is currently completing a second monograph, Colonial Legal Imaginaries: A Carnivalesque Jurisprudence of the Antipodes, which examines the legal imaginary that shaped and was shaped by the colonisation of Australia in the nineteenth century. The book shows how this imaginary worked to dispossess, dehumanise, and disempower First Nations through its forms of property, dignity, and sovereignty; and it aims to unsettle these legal forms, and open them up to reimagination. In doing so, it develops a new kind of jurisprudence – a carnivalesque jurisprudence – which uses the Bakhtinian figures of the clown, the fool, and the rogue to examine and represent the colonial legal imaginary, using an idiom of laughter that is critically potent as well as generative.

Shane is also editor (with Sundhya Pahuja) of The Routledge Handbook of International Law and the Humanities (Routledge, 2021); and he is currently editing a collection of essays (with Desmond Manderson) on “Colonial Legal Imaginaries | Southern Literary Futures”.

Disciplinary approaches

Law and the humanities

Critical legal studies

Socio-legal studies


Research areas

Law and colonialism

Law and development

Law and art


  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2021 - ongoing Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2018 - 2021 McKenzie Research Fellow University of Melbourne
    2017 - 2017 Teaching Fellow University of Melbourne
    2016 - 2017 Australian Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellow Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2012 - 2016 Australian National University Australia PhD
    2010 - 2011 McGill University Canada LLM
    2005 - 2010 University of Adelaide Australia LLB
    2004 - 2007 University of Adelaide Australia B Int St
  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2023 Chalmers, S. (2023). the sentimental life of international law: literature, language, and longing in world politics by Gerry Simpson. Law & Literature.
    2022 Chalmers, S. (2022). Metaphoric Sovereignty and the Australian Settler Colonial State. LAW TEXT CULTURE, 26, 36-57.
    2022 Chalmers, S. (2022). The Utopian Law and Literature of Systematic Colonisation. Law & Literature, 35(2), 1-21.
    2022 Chalmers, S. (2022). Shari‘a, Inshallah: Finding God in Somali Legal Politics by Mark Fathi Massoud. Journal of Modern African Studies, 60(3), 421-422.
    2021 Chalmers, S. (2021). Law's Pluralism: Getting to the Heart of the Rule of Law. Law, Culture and the Humanities, 17(2), 280-301.
    2021 Chalmers, S. (2021). The Festival as Constitutional Event and as Jurisdictional Encounter: Colonial Victoria and the Independent Order of Black Fellows. Griffith Law Review, 30(4), 557-577.
    DOI WoS1
    2021 Chalmers, S. (2021). Expressive Insurgency: Theft is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory by Robert Nichols. Theory & Event, 24(1), 411-414.
    2020 Chalmers, S. (2020). Native Dignity. Griffith Law Review, 29(2), 175-198.
    2020 Chalmers, S. (2020). Terra Nullius? Temporal Legal Pluralism in an Australian Colony. Social & Legal Studies, 29(4), 463-485.
    2020 Chalmers, S. (2020). Clothes Maketh the Man: Mimesis, Laughter, and the Colonial Rule of Law. Index Journal, (2), 81-102.
    2020 Chalmers, S. (2020). Negative Mythology. Law and Critique, 31(1), 59-72.
    DOI Scopus1 WoS4
    2019 Chalmers, S. (2019). The Mythology of International Rule-of-Law Promotion. Law & Social Inquiry, 44(04), 957-986.
    2018 Chalmers, S. (2018). The Chameleon Subject - Representation, Law, and the Problem of Living Dead. Law, Culture and the Humanities, 1-21.
    2018 Chalmers, S. (2018). The Beginning of Human Rights: The Ritual of the Preamble to Law. Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, 9(1), 107-125.
    2017 Chalmers, S. (2017). Civil Death in the Dominion of Freedom: Liberia and the Logic of Capital. Law and Critique, 28(2), 145-165.
    2015 Chalmers, S. (2015). Law’s Imaginary Life on the Ground: Scenes of the Rule of Law in Liberia. Law and Literature, 27(2), 179-198.
    2014 Chalmers, S., & Farrall, J. M. (2014). Securing the Rule of Law through UN Peace Operations. Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law, 18, 217-248.
  • Books

    Year Citation
    2021 Chalmers, S., & Pahuja, S. (Eds.) (2021). Routledge Handbook of International Law and the Humanities. Routledge.
    2018 Chalmers, S. (2018). Liberia and the Dialectic of Law: Critical Theory, Pluralism and the Rule of Law. Routledge.
  • Book Chapters

    Year Citation
    2023 Chalmers, S. (2023). The Rule of Law and International Development. In R. Buchanan, L. Eslava, & S. Pahuja (Eds.), Oxford Handbook on International Law and Development. Oxford University Press (forthcoming).
    2023 Chalmers, S., & Pahuja, S. (2023). The Inequity of Development: Reading the World Bank’s Turn to Inequality. In A. Anghie, & et al (Eds.), Handbook of Third World Approaches to International Law. Edward Elgar (forthcoming).
    2023 Chalmers, S. (2023). A Mitologia da Promoção Internacional do Rule of Law. In M. R. Sanchez Badin (Ed.), Direito e Desenvolvimento em Tradução. FGV Press, forthcoming.
    2023 Chalmers, S. (2023). Colonialism and Law. In J. Smits, J. Husa, M. Narciso, & C. Valcke (Eds.), Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law. Edward Elgar.
    2021 Chalmers, S., & Pahuja, S. (2021). Introduction. Practice, Craft and Ethos: Inheriting a Tradition. In S. Chalmers, & S. Pahuja (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of International Law and the Humanities (1 ed., pp. 1-18). Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.
    2021 Chalmers, S., & Pahuja, S. (2021). (Economic) Development and the Rule of Law. In J. Meierhenrich, & M. Loughlin (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Rule of Law (pp. 377-405). United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
    2018 Chalmers, S. (2018). The Visual Force of Justice in the Making of Liberia. In D. Manderson (Ed.), Law and the Visual: Representations, Technologies, and Critique. University of Toronto Press.

University of Adelaide FABLE Learning and Teaching Grant 2022 (AUD 4950)

University of Melbourne McKenzie Research Fellowship 2018-2021 (AUD 367,593)

Melbourne Law School Research Excellence Grant 2019 (AUD 2000)

Australian Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellowship 2016 (AUD 24,500)

Australian Bicentennial Scholarship 2014 (AUD 3000)

  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83137440
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Ligertwood
  • Org Unit: Adelaide Law School

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