Associate Professor Maria Giannacopoulos

Associate Professor Maria Giannacopoulos

Associate Professor

2010    PhD (Cultural Studies). Thesis Title: The Non-Justiciability of Justice: Mabo, Tampa and the Violence of Law. Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University

1999    Bachelor of Arts (First Class Hons, English) and Bachelor of Laws (Hons) University of Wollongong, Australia.

Law & Justice
School of Law, Society & Criminology

Dr Maria Giannacopoulos (she/her)  is Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Criminology Law and Justice in the School of Law, Society and Criminology.  She holds a BA(Hons) LLB (Hons) and a PhD in Cultural Studies and is a leading scholar in decolonising approaches to law and criminology. 

Maria is a Greek-Australian academic born and raised on Gadigal land and recognised internationally for pioneering grounded theoretical approaches for understanding law's relationship to colonial power and its expanding carcerality.  The Greek language is her mother tongue despite being Australia born, and so she formed an early interest in the politics of languages, meanings and cultures.  

Prior to joining UNSW Law and Justice in 2022, she taught law, sociolegal studies and criminology at Flinders University on Kaurna Country, Adelaide for over a decade. In 2020 she was the recipient of the Vice Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching and was recognised as a leading research-led educator working to decolonise the discipline of criminology by addressing global questions of Indigenous and racial justice.  

In 2023 she delivered the prestigious annual John Barry Lecture in Criminology at the University of Melbourne titled ‘Law Reform and Sovereign Refusal in the Colonial Debtscape’ and was shortlisted for the Law, Literature and Humanities Prize for her article ‘White Law/ Black Deaths: Nomocide and the foundational absence of consent in Australian Law’.  She is the special issue editor (with Kristopher Wilson and Rhys Aston) of volume 27 of Law Text Culture on the theme of ‘Imagining Decolonised Law’. 

+61-2-9348 1148
Room 362, Level 3, Law and Justice

2020   Vice Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching.  Citation: Decolonising Criminology: The development of cutting edge, research led curricula which demonstrates a command of the field and addresses contemporary and global questions of Indigenous and racial justice. 

2018  ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellowship Mentoring Scheme Recipient. 

2017 Flinders University Visiting International Research Scholarship to host Professor Onwubiko Agozino from Virginia Tech to conduct the interdisciplinary Law, Love and  Decolonization Project

2017 Flinders University Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching Citation: For building critical capacities in all students and inspiring emergent researchers through innovative research-led, internationally connected interdisciplinary curricula from first year through to HDR level.

Across my career, I have had a sustained interest in revealing the coloniality of law. To do this, I engage with a number of disciplines (cultural studies, migration and asylum studies, Indigenous studies, border studies) to undertake sociolegal and criminological research with a view to addressing contemporary and unresolved justice issues. 

I am currently engaged in a range of decolonising research projects ranging from a book project titled Colonial Debtscapes: Austerity, Sovereignty, Law and a special issue of Law Text Culture on Imagining Decolonised Law.  

I serve on the International Advisory Board of Crime Media Culture and on the Editorial Board of Decolonization of Criminology and Justice



You can watch the 2023 John Barry Lecture in Criminology, delivered at the University of Melbourne in 2023 here 

Or read it here:

Listen to my interview with Associate Professor Anthea Vogl for Border Criminologies on Decolonising Approaches to Migration and Refugee Studies here:


My Teaching

I am the recipient of two teaching awards for excellence in teaching, in particular for my pioneering work in decolonising approaches to the teaching of criminology.  I bring this expertise to teaching criminology at UNSW as it will inform my approach to the teaching of core areas in the study of criminology.  I am particularly committed to revealing the coloniality of the discipline and to foregrounding the experiences of those most targetted by processes of criminalisation.