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Joshua Nichols, PhD (Law), JD, PhD (Philosophy), MA (Sociology), BA Hons (Political Science)

Assistant Professor


About Me

Joshua Nichols holds a B.A. (Hons.) In political science and an M.A. in sociology from the University of Alberta; a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto; a J.D. from the University of British Columbia; and a Ph.D. in law from the University of Victoria. He is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia.

His research centers on the deeply complicated and (all too often) conflictual constitutional relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. In particular, he is interested in how the notion of Crown sovereignty has become entangled with the Westphalian model of the state (i.e., the state as a politically self-contained and legally autonomous unit for a singular ‘people’ or ‘nation’). This entanglement has effectively set the boundaries of constitutional interpretation in Canadian courts and confined Indigenous peoples to the status of ‘cultural minorities’ with a limited range of Charter-analogous rights. His work addresses this problem by adopting a genealogical approach that relates the jurisprudence to the history of the British Empire, the development of Canada and the relationship with the Crown (in all of its varied manifestations) and Indigenous peoples.

He is currently working on a research project that centers on the development of the Dominions in the British Empire during the mid and late 19th century. He is interested how concepts like sovereignty, federalism and constitutional law were shaped and re-shaped during the close of the so-called Second Empire and how these are carried over into the formation of modern International law from the League of Nation and, finally, to the United Nations.


  • Aboriginal Law

  • Federalism

  • Legal History

  • Philosophy Of Law

  • Socio-legal Studies & Research Methods


  • Sui Generis Sovereignties: An Investigation into the Relationship between the Principles of Treaty Interpretation and the Conceptual Framework of Canadian Sovereignty. In Reflections on Canada’s Past, Present and Future in International Law edited by Oonagh E. Fitzgerald, Valerie Hughes and Mark Jewett. McGill-Queen’s University Press (Forthcoming)

  • Figures of History, Foundations of Law: Acéphale, Angelus Novus, and the Katechon. (Journal of Historical Sociology. July 2017)

  • Studies in Legal Violence. Co-edited with Amy Swiffen. Routledge, 2017

  • A Reconciliation without Recollection? Chief Mountain and the Sources of Sovereignty. (UBC Law Review. 48(2) July 2015)

  • Claims of Sovereignty-Burdens of Occupation: William and the Future of Reconciliation. (UBC Law Review. 48(1) January 2015)

  • The End(s) of Community: History, Sovereignty, and the Question of Law. Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2013.