HIST231 - CONFLICT, LAW AND JUSTICE IN EARLY AMERICA: CROSS-CULTURAL APPROACHES

Description: 
This course provides a comparative study of law and legal pluralism in the early North American borderlands. From the sixteenth century through the early nineteenth century, Europeans, Native peoples, African descended peoples, and mixed race peoples committed acts of violence throughout the borderlands. People trespassed on land, killed other people and livestock, and stole property–non-human and human. In the resolution of intercultural conflicts, European and Native systems of law clashed. When a Menominee named Achiganaga allegedly killed two French traders in 1682, or when a Georgian official shot a Chehaw prisoner during an alleged escape attempt in 1802, or when Spanish officials accused Lower Creeks Juan and Jorge Galphin of raiding plantations on the Florida–Georgia border and taking seven slaves, eleven horses, and ninety heads of cattle in 1793–whose law governed the outcome? How and under what authority did Europeans prosecute indigenous people for murder? How did Native law impose justice when Europeans killed indigenous people? How did free and enslaved African Americans exercise legal power in both European and Native legal regimes? In other words, how and why did people from different cultures make their understandings of law intelligible to one another in violent contests over land, property, and freedom? Finally, how did these plural legal orders change over time? In this seminar, we will explore these questions to uncover the nature of legal pluralism and the ways it shaped the multiple meanings of law, justice, sovereignty, empire, and slavery in early North America. Drawing on a mix of primary and secondary sources, we will discuss competing ideologies and jurisdictional disputes in the constitution of law. We will also examine conceptual approaches to analyze how legal pluralism defined relations between Native peoples, African Americans, and settlers in early North America. Ultimately, we will consider how the legal complexity of the early modern era informs our understanding of the meanings of law and justice in the present day.
Instructors: 
GALLMAN, NANCY
Day and Time: 
R 0300PM-0600PM
Room: 

COLLEGE HALL 311F

Activity: 
SEM
Cross Listings: