Law and settler colonialism is not a self-evident, contained, or straightforward field of inquiry. Rather, it uneasily straddles two overlapping bodies of scholarship: legal histories of colonialism and settler colonial studies. In part one, I place these literatures into conversation to trace their contributions, overlaps, and incommensurabilities. In part two, I turn to maritime worlds as a method of speaking across their analytic divides. Here, I consider the Torrens as a system of land registry inaugurated in the colony of South Australia (1858) and as the last clipper ship to be built in Britain (1875). In its recurring and double life, the Torrens offers an illuminating nineteenth-century example of the interconnection and interdependence of land and sea that serves as a useful lesson today. The global exigencies that arise from the past, organize the present, and impinge on the future demand a shift from terrestrial thinking toward the aqueous and amphibian legalities of settler colonial power.


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