Friday, November 12, 2010

The Struggle for Land in Comparative Early Modern Europe and the Americas

Center for Renaissance Studies of the Newberry Library announces its Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History for 2011, “The Struggle for Land: Property, Territory, and Jurisdiction in Early Modern Europe and the Americas.” It will be held from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 8, 2011. The announcement states:
The Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History gathers under the auspices of the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library in Chicago to discuss the comparative legal history of the Atlantic world in the period c. 1492 to 1815. The one-day conference brings together law professors, historians, and social scientists to explore a particular topic in comparative legal history, broadly understood.***

The struggle to possess and control land, both as property and as jurisdictional territory, was central to the formation of early modern European societies as well as their colonial domains. This conference will look at how Europeans and indigenous peoples defined the right to land. We will examine how so-called European expansion influenced the conceptualization of property and territorial jurisdiction and the relationship between them. Conference participants may explore how notions of property and territoriality changed over time; and how colonial needs and the encounter with new cultures reshaped these notions. In what ways did “international competition” and the emergence of an “international law” (to use an anachronism) modify property and jurisdiction? How did economic, social, and political developments influence new ideas and experiences regarding the land? In what ways did these ideas and experiences shape practical strategies for claiming land and asserting rights to govern it and profit from it? We are particularly eager to know whether these encounters encouraged, consciously or not, borrowing between different European legal systems as well as between settlers and indigenous peoples. How was the movement and refashioning of legal knowledge bound up with the movement of peoples and refashioning of modes of control over land? We would like to encourage an interdisciplinary conversation among lawyers, historians, sociologists, geographers, and literary scholars.
A list of speakers and more information are here.