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Seminar Series: Legacies of Empire

Dr Martha Gayoye

Coloniality of Constitutionalism explores two complex historical and ongoing imperialist processes, one is how ‘rule of law’ is translated and transported into constitution review projects in Africa in what Katrin Seidel has termed as ‘rule of law translation’, led, sponsored and funded by Western nations, who pose Western liberal democratic values as universal. Secondly, the imperial nature of these rule of law translation projects are compounded by the fact that most (if not all) postcolonial constitutions were imposed as conditions for being granted independence from colonialism, hence Western liberal democratic values of citizenship, nationhood amongst others were imposed on these postcolonial states as state formative practices. These two historical and ongoing imperialist processes provide strong bases for a coloniality of constitutionalism embedded in Western constitutional liberal values such as ‘Man-as-Citizen’, a coloniality/modernity’ model in which ideas of citizenship and belonging cannot be conceived of beyond the nation state, coloniality of being and power,  and coloniality of gender.


Martha Gayoye is a socio-legal scholar, with a strong commitment to empirically grounded research that advances social justice.

Martha is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, having trained at Moi University and subsequently the Kenya School of Law/Council of Legal Education. Martha has an LLM in International Development Law and Human Rights, and a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) both from the University of Warwick, School of Law. Martha Gayoye has more than seven years of legal professional experience in Kenya. Before commencing on PhD studies, Martha had worked for the Government/public service in Kenya for six years at the Commission on Revenue Allocation, lectured at Mount Kenya University School of Law, and consulted for the Disability Caucus for the Implementation of the Constitution (concerned with the rights of persons with disabilities in the Constitution).

Martha also worked briefly with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights before my LLM studies. Martha’s professional legal experience, therefore, lies in constitutional and public law, public finance, devolution, and human rights. Martha’s established networks are the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA), the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK), the Law and Society Association (LSA), Law and Development Research

Network (LDRN) and the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S), in which Martha is active in the African constitutionalism cluster.