Maximilien Zahnd


Max was a postdoctoral associate of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. He is working with Dr. Marie Burton and Professor Linda Mulcahy on the AHRC project ‘Enhancing Democratic Habits: An oral history of the Law Centres movement’. His research interests include law and social movements, tax law (primarily Indigenous tax histories, colonial tax histories, and the socio-legal history of international taxation), Native American history, environmental history, historical geography, and borderlands history.

As a socio-legal historian, Max is interested in the relationship between tax law and settler colonialism, with a specific focus on Alaska Natives. His doctoral work explores how tax law was involved in (de)colonizing processes. Specifically, it analyses tax law’s socio-cultural, spatial, and political impact on Alaska Natives during the twentieth century. In doing so, Max’s research uses several case studies to contend that tax law, when deployed by local officials, either contributed to the assimilation or further marginalization of Alaska Natives. Conversely, when tribes chose to use tax law, these tax histories unpack tribal taxation’s ability to revitalize Indigenous spaces and push back against settler colonialism and capitalism.

Max holds a doctoral degree in law (J.S.D.) from the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, he will soon submit his Ph.D. thesis for examination at the University of Cambridge (Scott Polar Research Institute; Ph.D. in Polar Studies/Geography). While at UC Berkeley, Max was a graduate student instructor in the Department of Geography and the Department of Ethnic Studies. He was a 2019-2020 Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies (BELS) Graduate Fellow, a 2020-2021 Fellow-in-Residence at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, and a Visiting Doctoral Researcher at Sciences Po Law School (January – June 2021).

Research projects & programmes

Centre for Socio-Legal Studies