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CANCELED — CSLS Speaker Series: Richard Ross

Monday, October 28, 2019 @ 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm


The Center for the Study of Law and Society 
is pleased to announce the next speaker in the Fall 2019 CSLS Speaker Series




David C. Baum Professor of Law and Professor of History at University of Illinois


Speaking on his research

“The Rule of Law in British America: Thinking with Indians While Comparing to Spaniards”


Settlers in British North America used stylized depictions of indigenous peoples to argue about what the rule of law meant in a New World polity.  Colonial rule invited accusations of arbitrary government, extortion, and systematic lawlessness.  By pointing to specific features of caricatured Native life and law, settlers could affirm that their polity adhered to law rather than to arbitrary will, passion, and predation.  Or they could deny it.  Or they could try to change what the rule of law meant in practice.  Accounts of indigenous peoples served as a contrast or counterpoint that helped British Americans legitimate, shape, and critique their own rule of law.  The paper explores four ways this happened. Examples from Native neighbors provided a background against which colonists argued about violent self-help, the meaning of “despotism,” and the implications for their legal system of anglicization and commercialization.  In arguing about the rule of law, English settlers were thinking with Indians. 

At various points, the paper will contrast the Spanish to the British American use of Natives to reflect on the rule of law.  In particular, the essay will focus on how different reconstructions of pre-contact Inca and Aztec history could be turned towards defending the rule of law in New Spain and Peru.  These Spanish American moves, some among many, can help identify what was distinctive and interesting in the British American strategies.

The related paper is available on our website and in hard copy at the Center.
Please join us on Monday, October 28 from 12:45-2:00p in the Philip Selznick Seminar Room, 2240 Piedmont Ave. 
Coffee and water are provided. We invite you to bring your own “bag lunch.”
We are looking forward to seeing you soon!


Catherine Albiston, Faculty Director


Monday, October 28, 2019
12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Center for the Study of Law and Society


Philip Selznick Seminar Room
2240 Piedmont Ave
Berkeley, CA 94720-2150 United States
+ Google Map

Events are wheelchair accessible. For disability-related accommodations, contact the organizer of the event. Advance notice is kindly requested.

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