Ghost Dancing with Colonialism
360 pages, 6 x 9
6 b&w photos, 3 charts, 6 tables
Release Date:24 Feb 2012
Release Date:25 Oct 2011
Release Date:01 Sep 2011

Ghost Dancing with Colonialism

Decolonization and Indigenous Rights at the Supreme Court of Canada

SERIES: Law and Society
UBC Press

Some assume that Canada earned a place among postcolonial states in 1982 when it took charge of its Constitution. Yet despite the formal recognition accorded to Aboriginal and treaty rights at that time, Indigenous peoples continue to argue that they are still being colonized.

Grace Woo assesses this allegation using a binary model that distinguishes colonial from postcolonial legality. She argues that two legal paradigms governed the expansion of the British Empire, one based on popular consent, the other on conquest and the power to command. During the twentieth century, international law formally rejected the conquest model. However, despite the best intentions of lawyers and judges, the beliefs and practices of the colonial age continue to haunt Supreme Court of Canada rulings concerning Indigenous rights.

The binary analysis applied in Ghost Dancing with Colonialism casts explanatory light on ongoing tensions between Canada and Indigenous peoples, suggesting new ways to bridge the cultural divide and arrive at a truly postcolonial justice system.

This book will appeal not only to activists, lawyers, and the judiciary but also to scholars in law, Native studies, and postcolonial studies.

This book has impressive scholarly depth, and in a systematic and challenging way makes a major contribution to understanding and assessing the Supreme Court’s decision-making with respect to Aboriginal peoples in the quarter century since Aboriginal and treaty rights have been formally recognized in Canada’s Constitution. Peter H. Russell, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Toronto and author of Recognizing Aboriginal Title
Grace Li Xiu Woo is a retired member of the Law Society of British Columbia. She has taught in the Program of Legal Studies for Native People at the University of Saskatchewan.

Introduction: Ghost Dancing and S. 35

Part 1: Paradigms and the British Empire

1 Anomalies

2 Conceptual Structures

3 Colonial and Postcolonial Legality

Part 2: Case Study: Indigenous Rights and Decolonization at the Supreme Court of Canada

4 Methodology

5 Internal Architecture of the Court’s Reasoning

6 Trends and Dance Tunes

7 Can the Court Become Postcolonial?

Appendix 1: Chronological List of Cases Studied

Appendix 2: Judicial Careers

Appendix 3: Judicial Reasoning Profiles

Appendix 4: Assessment of Reasoning

Appendix 5: Use of the Canadian Judicial Institution


Selected Bibliography

General Index

Index of Cases

Index of Legislation, Treaties, and Accords


Appendices for Ghost Dancing with Colonialism.


References from Ghost Dancing with Colonialism.

Find what you’re looking for...

Free shipping on online orders over $40

Stay Informed

Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.

Read past newsletters

Publishers Represented
UBC Press is the Canadian agent for several international publishers. Visit our Publishers Represented page to learn more.