Photo of Christiane Wilke

Christiane Wilke

Associate Professor

Degrees:M.A., Ph.D. (New School for Social Research)
Phone:613-520-2600 x. 4168
Office:D499 LA (Loeb Building)

Current Research

My research examines how people deal with massive violence, and specifically how they talk about violence in legal categories. One of my projects investigates how criminal trials for state repression in Argentina and Germany helped to create certain imaginaries of perpetrators and responsibility, of law and legality, and of suffering and victimhood.

The new project (part of a SSHRC funded interdisciplinary collaboration) investigates how people made specific forms of violence such as bombing, genocide, and enforced disappearances visible to international law. This project involves an inquiry into the ways in which international law takes notice of violence and declares it a matter of international concern. It also involves an examination of the strategies by which social movements succeeded in making specific forms of violence a matter of concern for international criminal law. The project will also consider the effects of international criminal law’s specific modes of seeing violence on conflicts, identity politics, and advocacy.


At the undergraduate level, I enjoy teaching LAWS 3908 (Approaches in Legal Studies II), which introduces students to different forms of critical research on the basis of a theme. I teach this course with a focus on human rights and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in Canada and South Africa.

I also teach the LAWS 6000 doctoral seminar, which offers a platform for PhD students to think about current debates in Legal Studies broadly understood.

In all courses I teach, I try to incorporate a variety of different approaches to the study of law: we will examine the relationship between law and broader culture, we will read court decisions as literary texts, and we will draw on a wide range of sources including NGO documents, literature, court decisions, visual culture, and film in order to analyze human rights and law.

Even when the course is designated as a lecture, I aim for a seminar style: even the “lectures” will include discussions and group work. More on my teaching style: HERE


I supervise graduate students in the following areas:

  • Human rights
  • Critical histories of international law
  • Decolonizing international law and human rights
  • Transitional justice and international criminal law
  • Law, visuality, and knowledge
  • Legal Theory and histories of legal thought
  • Law, memory, and reconciliation

Current Supervisions 

Ross Williamson, Analysing the War/Peace Binary in International Law and Imperialism (PhD Legal Studies)

Tiffany MacLellan, Putting Trials in Their Place: Museum Representations of Mass Atrocity Trials in Germany and the US (PhD Legal Studies)

Zorana Dimitrijevic, International Criminal Law and Cinema: The Making of Imprescriptble Dramaturgies (PhD Legal Studies)

Completed Supervisions (selected) 

Judith Smith, Justice, Truth and the Future of the Past: Inheritance and Responsibility in Argentina’s 1983 Political Transition. (MA Legal Studies, 2010)

Ross Williamson, A Friendly Demonstration of Force: Pacific Blockade, International Law and State Identity, 1827 to 1921. (MA Legal Studies, 2013)

Yana Gorokhovskaia, From Soviet Dictatorship to Russian Dermo-Cratia: Toward a Theory of Political Justice. (MA Legal Studies, 2009)

Editorial Work

I have editorial experience as a guest co-editor of a special issue of Kritische Justiz (in German, with Lena Foljanty), a co-editor of the volume Sensing Law (with Sheryl Hamilton, Diana Majury, Dawn Moore, and Neil Sargent; forthcoming with Routledge/GlassHouse 2016), and as a co-editor of the collected works of Otto Kirchheimer (with Hubertus Buchstein and Alfons Söllner; Nomos Verlag).

Recent Publications

For a full list of publications as well as abstracts and available electronic files, please visit SSRN: or

„The Optics of War: Seeing Civilians, Enacting Distinctions, and Visual Crises in International Law.” In Sensing Law, ed. Sheryl Hamilton, Diana Majury, Dawn Moore, Neil Sargent and Christiane Wilke (Abingdon: Routledge/GlassHouse, forthcoming 2016).

Östlich des Rechtsstaates: Vergangenheitspolitik, Recht und Identitätsbildung.“ [East of the Rule of Law: Politics of History, Law, and Identities] In ‘Der Osten’ – Neue sozialwissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf einen komplexen Gegenstand jenseits von Verurteilung und Verklärung. [‘The East’ – New Social Research on a Complex Subject Beyond Condemnation and Nostalgia], ed. by Sandra Matthäus and Daniel Kubiak. Frankfurt/Main: VS Springer (Forthcoming 2015).

„La ley en un mundo inclinado: modelos viajeros de responsabilidad penal por la violencia estatal.” (“Law on a Slanted Globe: Traveling Models of Criminal Responsibility for State Violence,” translated by Alberto Gálvez Olaechea) In Ponciano del Pino and Ludwig Huber (eds),Políticas en Justicia Transicional [The Politics of Transitional Justice]. Forthcoming, 2015.

“‘This following orders thing is very relative: Ascriptions and Assumptions of Responsibility in the Causa ESMA, 1983-1987.” In Political Trials: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Devin Pendas and Jens Meierhenrich. Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2016.

“Gespenstisches Erbe: die Gegenwart von NS-Rechtsbeugungsfällen in den BGH-Urteilen zur Rechtsbeugung von DDR-Richtern.” [Ghostly Inheritance: The Presence of Trials of Nazi Perpetrators in the Cases against East German Judges] In: Kritische Justiz 2013 (3), 278-289.

Remembering Complexity? Memorials for Nazi Victims in Berlin.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 7 (2013), 1-21.

“Fall 3: Juristen vor Gericht, Recht auf dem Prüfstand und das Erbe der “Zivilisation”” [Case 3: Jurists in the dock, law on trial, and the legacy of “civilization”] In: Die Nürnberger Prozesse: Geschichte, Gerechtigkeit, Rechtsschöpfung. [The Nuremberg Trials: History, Justice, Jurisprudence], ed. Kim Christian Priemel and Alexa Stiller. Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2013, 288-319.

Enter Ghost: Haunted Courts and Haunting Judgments in Transitional Justice.” Law & Critique 21(2010), 73-92.

Reconsecrating the Temple of Justice: Invocations of Civilization, Humanity, and Justice at the Nuremberg Justice Trial.” Canadian Journal of Law and Society 24 (2009), 181-201.

Public Engagements (selected)


“Civilians in War,” 25 July 2014, Ottawa Citizen (also printed in Vancouver Sun and Calgary Herald).

 Academic Blog Posts

“Civilians, Combatants and Histories of International Law.” Critical Legal Thinking, 28 July 2014.

“Making Sense of Place: Naming Streets in Berlin and Beyond.” Public Seminar, 22 January 2014.

“Memories of Identities, Identities of Memory.” Deliberately Considered, 6 March 2013.