Associate Professor Maria Giannacopoulos
Associate Professor

Associate Professor Maria Giannacopoulos

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

I am 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.  With Greek as my mother tongue, I formed an early interest in the politics of languages, meanings and cultures.  Combined with a strong interest in and committment to racial justice, I studied Law and Literature as a first in family student and then went on to complete a PhD in Cultural Studies. My doctoral thesis critically examined the judgements of Mabo and Tampa and revealed the coloniality of Australian law. 

As a leading scholar in decolonising approaches to law and criminology, I receive regular invitations to publish and speak about (colonial) law's impact upon Indigenous, refugee, asylum seeker and refugee communities.  I am co-editor of 'Law, Love and Decolonization', a special issue of Globalizations, with the world's leading decolonial criminologist Professor Biko Agozino.

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

+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 research projects ranging from a book project on debt, austerity and coloniality to an international project on the decriminalisation of abortion. 

My book project titled Colonial Debtscapes: Austerity, Sovereignty, Law counterposes the highly visible Greek debt drama with the continuing yet invisible sovereign debt crisis of colonial Australia to argue that in both debtscapes law operates to demand payment for or to conceal debt resulting in the extension of colonial power.   Colonial Debtscapes unravels the presence of coloniality through austerity in contemporary Australia (and Greece) and reveals its deathly logic and nomocidal effects.  

I am currently working with colleagues from Australia (A/Prof Barbara Baird, Dr Erica Millar),  UK  (Dr Ruth Fletcher) and New Zealand (Dr Rebecca Stringer) on a project that seeks to track the trend towards the decriminalisation of abortion.  Commencing before the recent overturning of Roe v Wade in the US, the project tracks the activist movements that have led to decriminalisation in many jurisdictions and the work the justice questions that remain unresolved even after legal change has occured. 

With A/Prof Marinella Marmo (Flinders) and Dr Evan Smith (Flinders)  I am undertaking research to unearth the histories of border violence experienced by Greek and Italian women migrants in the post world war two migration period. 

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.