Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hartog on Davis, "Judges, Masters, Diviners: Slaves’ Experience of Criminal Justice in Colonial Suriname"

Writing for the JOTWELL legal history section, Hendrik Hartog (Princeton University) calls readers' attention (here) to Natalie Zemon Davis, "Judges, Masters, Diviners: Slaves’ Experience of Criminal Justice in Colonial Suriname," Law &History Review (2011). Hartog begins by discussing the author's profound influence on his own career. He then discusses the article, which he calls "a triumph of the moral and historical imagination." Here's more:
Now, many years beyond her official “retirement,” Davis publishes “Judges, Masters, Diviners: Slaves’ Experience of Criminal Justice in Colonial Suriname,” as part of her continuing inquiry into slaveholding and the lives of slaves in the Dutch colony of Suriname.  Her larger project of reconstructing life in early modern Suriname has required her to learn new languages and literatures.  It has resulted in provocative and illuminating studies of the ironic situation of Jews who moved to Suriname to found a radically free place for themselves and who then, of course, became slaveholders.  But the Law and History Review article pursues a different question, about the various meanings of what “criminal law” meant in a radically violent slave society.
Read on here.

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