Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Marquis Reviews Freyer & Campbell, eds., Freedom's Condition ...

Here's another new one from the Law & Politics Book Review: Greg Marquis (University of New Brunswick Saint John) reviews FREEDOM’S CONDITION IN THE U.S.-CANADA BORDERLANDS IN THE AGE OF EMANCIPATION (Carolina Academic Press), edited by Tony Freyer and Lyndsay Campbell. Here's a taste:
This volume of original research essays, which began to germinate when legal history scholars met at a conference in 2008, is a useful addition to a growing list of studies on North American borderlands in general and, more specifically, the borderlands of law, legal thinking and legal institutions. It takes its title in part from the recurring theme of how borders and borderlands affected the condition of freedom for black people. Editors Freyer and Campbell, American and Canadian legal history specialists respectively, contributed not only a co-written introduction and conclusion, but also research chapters. Three of the remaining chapters focus on Canada (specifically Upper Canada or Canada West-Ontario prior to 1867) and three are case studies of U.S. states or regions. The disciplines represented include history, African American Studies and law. The focus is on how the status of free and emancipated persons of African descent was controlled and contested on three levels: the international borderlands shared by the United States and British North America; the borderlands between free and slave territory within the antebellum United States and within free state regions such as the Northwest Territory and New England. The sources used, in addition to secondary literature in several disciplines, include legal decisions, constitutional and legal treatises, legislation, newspapers, narratives of 19th century slaves and immigrants, census records, petitions and official correspondence. As with any topic involving African Americans and African Canadians, especially in the first half of the 19th century, researchers are challenged to find useful sources, especially those produced by members of minority cultures in a white-dominated legal and political system.
Marquis commends the collection "for bringing legal history perspectives to the complicated issues of the racial identity, racial control and African American resistance and agency in the U.S.-Canada borderlands in the 19th century."

Read on here.