Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Justice in Colonial British and Iberian America: An Essay Collection

We’ve received word of the publication of Justice in a New World: Negotiating Legal Intelligibility in British, Iberian, and Indigenous America (NYU Press, 2018), edited by Brian P. Owensby, University of Virginia, and Richard J. Ross, University of Illinois Law and History:
As British and Iberian empires expanded across the New World, differing notions of justice and legality played out against one another among settlers and indigenous seeking to negotiate their relationship. In order for settlers and Natives to learn from, maneuver, resist, or accommodate each other, they had to grasp something of each other's legal ideas.  This volume examines how Natives and settlers in both the British and Iberian New World empires used the other’s ideas of law and justice as a political, strategic, and moral resource.  Settlers and indigenous people construed and misconstrued each other’s legal commitments while learning about them, never quite sure if they were on solid ground.  Chapters explore the problem of “legal intelligibility”: How and to what extent did settler law and its associated notions of justice become intelligible—tactically, technically, and morally—to Natives, and vice versa?  Ultimately, Justice in a New World offers a dual comparative study of how people in a colonial encounter struggled to make laws and codes of justice intelligible.
Here are some endorsements:
Justice in the New World is an exciting and timely collection of essays with thinkers who have been at the forefront of research on legal intelligibility in the Americas. The collection brings questions of justice, law, and legality into an imperial and comparative frame, with close attention paid to the differences in the Iberian and North American worlds."

—Michelle McKinley, University of Oregon School of Law, Author of Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Intimacy, and Legal Mobilization in Colonial Lima

"The essays in this volume unsettle much of the conventional wisdom about the process of colonization, by revealing the staggering complexity of the law’s role in mediating relationships between settlers and indigenous people in the American colonies of Britain and Spain. The essays are richly researched and elegantly written, and they are bracketed by extraordinarily thoughtful introductory and concluding chapters. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in colonial or legal history."

—Stuart Banner, author of How the Indians Lost Their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier

"What could 'law' and 'justice' mean in the context of the European conquest and colonization of the Americas?   The deeply researched essays in this volume examine illuminating cases where justice was a contested, ever-shifting concept as indigenous peoples and colonizers confronted one another in settings from Brazil and Peru to Florida, New England and Virginia.  Featuring a distinguished roster of scholars, the book’s broadly comparative approach, as well as its insistence on foregrounding indigenous justice, will ensure that it is recognized as a landmark contribution to the burgeoning literature on law and colonialism."

—Allan Greer, McGill University

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