9 am-5 pm
The French Atlantic has not yet received the sustained attention given to the British and Spanish Atlantic, particularly where the topic of law is concerned. This conference will explore the legal dimension (broadly conceived) of the French Atlantic empire in the early modern period. The variegated and rapidly evolving juridical order of ancien régime France was deeply implicated in the expansion of overseas commerce, the founding of colonies, and the creation of imperial administrations.
Participants may explore topics such as: legal discourse and imperial ideologies; the establishment of colonial jurisdictions in Canada, Louisiana, and the French West Indies; the regulation of slavery; indigenous peoples and the law; the emergence of colonial land tenures; and the legal framework for trade and business enterprise. The organizers wish particularly to encourage comparative approaches that consider more than one French colony and that examine contrasts and convergences with the British, Spanish and Portuguese empires. In according due attention to the distinctive features of French law and the French New World empire, we hope to enrich understandings of Atlantic history generally.
9 am: Welcome
9:05-10:35 am: Panel 1: The Legal Foundations of the French Atlantic Empire
The Army, the Navy, the Governor, and the Colony: Frameworks of Public Law in the French Atlantic
Alexandre Dubé, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
"Governed by the Same Laws, without Distinction or Difference": Legal Pluralism and the Construction of Empire in the Early Modern French Atlantic
Brett Rushforth, College of William and Mary, History
Slaves and the Old Regime: The View from Paris
Miranda Spieler, University of Arizona, History
Commentator: David Bell, Princeton University, History
10:35-10:50 am: Refreshment Break
10:50 am to 12:20 pm: Panel 2: Economy and Empire
A Feudal Empire? Land Tenure in the French Atlantic
Allan Greer, McGill University
Company Logic Meets Legal Accountability: The Question of Liability of Chartered Enterprises in the Mid-Seventeenth-Century French Atlantic
Helen Dewar, University of Toronto, History
Payback for Default: Legalities of Counterfeit in the French Atlantic
Catherine Desbarats, McGill University, History
Chair and commentator: Paul Cheney, University of Chicago, History
12:20 to 1:40 pm: Lunch: Participants are invited to try the restaurants in the neighborhood around the Newberry.
1:40 to 3:10 pm: Panel 3: Slavery and the Code Noir
Beyond the Codes Noirs: The Making of Slave Law(s) in the Early Modern French Atlantic
Guillaume Aubert, College of William and Mary, History
The Afterlife of the Law of Slavery: The Code Noir and the Language of Rights in the Era of the Haitian Revolution
Malick Ghachem, University of Maine, Law
Commentator #2 and Chair: Lea Vandervelde, University of Iowa, Law
3:10 to 3:25 pm: Refreshment Break
3:25 to 4:55 pm: Panel 4: The Seven Years’ War and After
Indians Out of the Shadows and into the Plot: Tracing Indigenous Voices in Building a French Atlantic Case for Just War
Christian Crouch, Bard College, History
The Reactions of the "New" Subjects of Quebec to British Justice for Private Law Matters, 1760-1774
Michel Morin, Université de Montréal, Law
From French to British: Remonstrance, Representation, and Remediation between Empires
Hannah Weiss Muller, Harvard University, History and Literature
Commentator #1: Shannon Lee Dawdy, University of Chicago, Anthropology
Commentator #2 and Chair: Robert Morrissey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, History
This program is free and open to the public, but due to space limitations attendance is limited to 50 people.
The symposium is currently full. To be placed on a waitlist, please complete this online registration form. If space becomes available, we will contact you.
Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry Library. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.
Learn more about the Center for Renaissance Studies Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History.