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Project Details
Funding Scheme : Early Career Scheme
Project Number : 24601320
Project Title(English) : The Exportation and Evolution of Vagrancy Laws in the Nineteenth Century British Empire: From the Caribbean to Hong Kong 
Project Title(Chinese) : 十九世紀大英帝國流浪法的輸出與演變:從加勒比海到香港 
Principal Investigator(English) : Prof Roberts, Christopher 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : N/A 
Department : Faculty of Law
Institution : The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2020 / 21
Fund Approved : 408,100
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 31-12-2022
Abstract as per original application
(English/Chinese):
During the long nineteenth century, two developments occurred simultaneously. First, the British Empire dramatically expanded across the globe. Second, the structure of British law and governance was dramatically reformed, across many areas. While both of these developments have been widely observed, their close interrelationship has not been adequately explored to date. My research aims to address this shortcoming. In particular, my past and ongoing research focuses on the evolution of public order laws and institutions in Britain and the British Empire over the course of the long nineteenth century. Work I have already done has explored the manner in which colonial legality evolved out of emergency law regimes, leading to the incorporation of various aspects of exceptional legality into everyday legal contexts (Roberts, 2019), as well as the manner in which the repressive tools of the British state expanded dramatically in response to progressive activism in the late eighteenth century (Roberts, 2020). Currently, I am exploring the manner in which approaches to public order governance developed between 1800 and 1900 in Britain, including through the development of a more modern, professionalized police service, as well as through new laws governing and penalizing ‘vagrancy’ and similar categories. My proposed new project will build on this past work. In particular, the aim of the project is to explore the manner in which the vagrancy law model that developed in England was exported to the British colonial world, how the model changed over time, and how developments in the colonial context reflected back on experiences in Britain in turn. In that context, the research will explore the implementation of vagrancy laws in the Caribbean and Mauritius, Ceylon, Ireland, India, the Cape Colony, the Straits Settlements, the East African Protectorate, Northern Nigeria, and Hong Kong. As well as examining similarities and differences amongst these laws, their aims and modes of enforcement, and the manner in which approaches to ‘vagrancy' evolved over time, the research will also consider the connections between those laws and the development of key public order institutions, including the police in particular, as well as exploring the different ideologies relied upon to justify those laws. Ultimately, the aim is both to produce scholarship that will reframe debates about the nature of public order law and the role of the colonial experience in the shaping of that law, as well as to contribute to contemporary efforts towards progressive legal reform.
在漫長的十九世紀,兩種發展同時發生。首先,大英帝國在全球範圍內迅速擴張。其次,英國的法律和治理結構在許多領域進行了重大變革。雖然這兩項發展已得到廣泛的關注,但迄今尚未充分探討它們之間的密切相互關係。我的研究旨在解決這一缺點。 特別是,我過去和現在的研究重點是在漫長的十九世紀中,英國和大英帝國公共秩序法律和制度的演變。我已經完成了探討從緊急狀態法進化出來的殖民的合法性政權,導致異常合法性擴展到日常法律語境的各個方面(罗伯茨,2019),以及英國的專制工具為應對在十八世紀晚期的進步運動的急劇擴大(罗伯茨,2020)的工作。目前,我正在探索1800年到1900年英國公共秩序治理方法的發展方式,包括通過發展一個更現代、更專業化的警察服務,以及通過管理和懲罰“流浪”和類似類別的新法律。 我提出的新項目將以過去的工作為基礎。特別是,該項目的目的是探索在英國發展起來的流浪法模式是如何被輸出到英國殖民世界的,這種模式是如何隨著時間的推移而改變的,以及殖民背景下的發展是如何反過來反映在英國的經驗上。在此背景下,本研究將探討流浪法在加勒比海地區、毛里求斯、錫蘭、愛爾蘭、印度、開普殖民地、海峽殖民地、東非保護國、尼日利亞北部和香港的實施情況。以及研究在這些法律中,它們的目標和執行模式,和“流浪”隨著時間的推移進化的方式方法的異同,這項研究還將考慮這些法律和關鍵公共秩序機構的發展,特別是警察之間的聯繫,以及探索用來證明這些法律正當性的不同的意識形態。最終,目標是產生一種理論,它將重新組織關於公共秩序法的性質的探討,以及殖民經驗在法律形成過程中所起的作用,同時也將有助於當代努力實現的漸進的法律改革。
Research Outcome
Layman's Summary of
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  SCREEN ID: SCRRM00542