NYU Law School
March 13-15, 2008
Roman law and other texts dealing with Roman armed expansion and warfare were among the most influential traditions in the 16th and 17th century development of the law of nations in Europe and in European imperial expansion. The first panels of this conference inquire into the importance of Roman law and of judgments about Roman practice as sources for later thinking about the law of nations, imperialism, and just war. Several of the papers will use the work of the sixteenth-century Roman law scholar Alberico Gentili (1552-1608) as one focal point for the discussion of these wider issues. The later panels consider connections between these Roman traditions and major European thinkers on international law in the 18th century such as Barbeyrac, Montesquieu and Vattel, and the impact of this tradition and of other justifications of European expansion in the Americas and elsewhere. The conference aims to bring together participants from several different disciplines, extending from ancient historians to specialists in modern international legal and political theory, in order to deepen understandings of this Roman tradition and of its ebb and flow among the different projects to justify and shape imperialism through law. The conference will also draw wider attention to Alberico Gentili’s work, and provides an opportunity for deeper evaluation of the traditions of Roman and international legal thought on war and imperialism to which he was a signal contributor.
The conference program is here.