Wednesday, February 12, 2020

CFP: Law, Theology, and the Moral Regulation of “Economy” in the Early-Modern Atlantic World

[We have the following announcement.  DRE]

Call for Papers: Law, Theology, and the Moral Regulation of “Economy” in the Early-Modern Atlantic World

This is a call for papers in anticipation of a one-day conference to be organized by Brian Owensby (University of Virginia) and Richard Ross (University of Illinois) through the Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History  The conference, to be held at the Newberry. Library in Chicago on Friday, April 23, 2021 is entitled, “Law, Theology, and the Moral Regulation of ‘Economy’ in the Early-Modern Atlantic World.”  The time is long past when the Western world’s emergent commercial culture could be understood solely in terms of a Protestant ethos or the division between commerce and social morality occasioned by the Protestant Reformation. Scholarship has shown that “modern” ideas regarding commerce and “economics” had their roots in late-medieval Catholic thought and in neo-scholastic ideas that blended theology, justice, and law. It is clear as well that the rise of commercial thinking was not a linear intellectual development. Protestants and Catholics alike, facing the moral and social implications of novel “economic” relations, undertook deep theological and legal reflections regarding unbridled, competitive, exchange-oriented gain seeking. Many of these concerns were raised in the context of Europe’s westward expansion to the New World. Usury, just price, interest, legal personality, slavery, reciprocity, property, cases of conscience, doubts regarding self-regulating mechanisms, concerns for the poor—all figured in a vibrant legal discourse that simultaneously elaborated and critiqued a set of ideas regarding human economy that became dominant between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. This conference will bring together historians, legal scholars, and social scientists to investigate law’s historical role in enabling and regulating behaviors now recognized as foundational to modern economies.

Interested presenters should submit an abstract of between 200 and 500 words and a c.v. by March 15, 2020.  Please send submissions and inquiries to Richard Ross []; 217-244-7890.  No previously published work will be accepted. Applicants will be notified by email shortly after the submission deadline.  Accepted participants will be required to submit a full paper of no more than 10,000 words by the end of February 2021. Papers will be pre-circulated and read by all participants.  The conference will pay for travel and hotel expenses.