Cape Legal Idioms and the Colonial Sovereign

International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 26 (1):39-54 (2013)
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A crucial element of sovereignty politics concerns the role that juridical techniques play in recursively creating images of the sovereign. This paper aims to render that dimension explicit by focusing on examples of crime-focused law and colonial rule at the Cape of Good Hope circa 1795. It attempts to show how this law helped to define a colonial sovereign via such idioms as proclamations, inquisitorial criminal procedures, and case narratives framing the atrocity and appropriate punishment for crimes. Referring to primary texts of the time, the paper explores how procedures and narratives of Cape law were also deeply involved in fashioning specific images of the sovereign in whose name it claimed to operate



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