HomeThemis outre-mer: Justice, judicial and judiciary adaptation and appropriation during the first colonial system (circa 1500-1800)

Themis outre-mer: Justice, judicial and judiciary adaptation and appropriation during the first colonial system (circa 1500-1800)

Thémis Outre-mer : justice, adaptation et appropriation juridiques et judiciaires à l’heure du premier système colonial (vers 1500-1800)

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Published on Friday, September 13, 2013 by Luigia Parlati

Summary

The aim of this study day is to offer new directions for research and present new issues in the history of colonial law, as well as in the practices of justice in the colonial areas of the modern period. The field of investigation should not be reduced to the French area –that would be nearly impossible since the old colonial regime contributed to the establishment of globalization. The British, Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch colonies –without any territorial restrictions – are included as potential fields of research, in order to stress the conference’s international dimension.

Announcement

Argument

The renewed interest for colonial history may be viewed as an invitation to develop new research and studies as well as new directions and perspectives concerning the first colonial system, born from the Age of Great Discoveries- the Renaissance.

While the colonial system in the 19th and 20th centuries has been the object of constant attention and study for several years (concerning either law or judiciary practices and customs, or colonial culture), the old colonial regime has not attracted so much attention in these same fields. Yet the distinctive traits of the old colonial system present an undeniable interest for historians either of law, or of judiciary practices (and even more), who wish to contribute to that “world-history” that is profoundly changing.

As far as the history of institutions is concerned, the old system calls for a reflection about the application of metropolitan law in the territories placed under the direct authority of the monarchy, and in theory subjected to the common regime- ensured by local institutions more or less similar to the metropolitan model (superior councils, judicial officers, Intendants) but also in areas controlled by the Companies that were granted the privilege and prerogatives to enforce justice (the French West Indies Company, the Company of One–Hundred Associates in Canada , before 1663).

As far as judicial history is concerned , and in keeping with the model suggested by law historian David Gilles (University of Sherbrooke), the old system calls for reflection about the issue of the “adaptation-appropriation” of a judicial system that was imported from the metropolis and re-interpreted by the local law officials (either civil or criminal law).

Thus in Canada, in the 18th century, the local law officers prompted the political and colonial authorities to modify civil law and the procedure defined by the ordinance of 1667. They also incited the same authorities to prepare the colony to the judicial changes that occurred after the British conquest of 1763, while they influenced the new Master of the colony to adapt its law to the Canadian population.

Likewise, one remembers the efforts of some law magistrates to educate the colonial judicial officers under the French law, since there was no faculty of law in situ (a decision of the monarchy, to avoid competition with the institutes of the metropolis, and to avoid the development of a judicial mindset that would be more Canadian than French). Beyond the contents of such private education, one may wonder if the magistrates of the French colony of America were incited (encouraged) to “invent” (to devise) an original law, or to think over specific judicial needs. This is but one example.

As far as judicial practices are concerned, more research should certainly be done about certain chronological periods, (for instance about New France before it was regulated by the monarchy administration from 1663), and about some colonial areas that have been less exposed to research in this particular field ( Canada has been the object of extensive research but this is not the case for Louisiana; what about daily justice in the trading posts in French India or in the islands of the Indian ocean or in the sugar plantations of the Caribbean or the trading posts in Africa?).

The adaptation of law, and its appropriation (acculturation), by the indigenous populations (also imported, like the African slaves), but also by Europeans or people from European origins (possibly constituted into social or professional categories that differed from those of the metropolis, such as the coureurs des bois, the employees of the Companies, indentured labour, an important military population- people who were bound, if only partially, to detach themselves from European judicial canons-), obviously remains a classical field of research that is not yet exhausted. Research should also focus on the history of justice seen from the perspective of those subjected to the law and therefore focus on the colonized, in order to get to this “equal -sided” history, a notion developed by historian Romain Bertrand.

The aim of this study day is to offer new directions for research and present new issues in the history of colonial law, as well as in the practices of justice in the colonial areas of the modern period. The field of investigation should not be reduced to the French area –that would be nearly impossible since the old colonial regime contributed to the establishment of globalization. The British, Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch colonies –without any territorial restrictions – are included as potential fields of research, in order to stress the conference’s international dimension.

It is important to note that the given chronological limits are not strictly defined: the first colonial system remains very dependent on the history of each of the concerned countries (it is a tradition in France to stretch it into the first half of the 19th century, the conquest of Algeria constituting a sort of in-between). A great variety of sources can be used: judicial treatises, judicial archives and documents, literary documents, “indigenous” sources and documents, so that this event may provide the most complete and comparative historical approach.

Submission guidelines

Proposals for papers (2000 characters, 5 key-words maximum) should be sent to eric.wenzel@univ-avignon.fr

before February 15, 2014

Scientific committee

Donald Fyson (Université Laval – Québec), David Gilles (Université Sherbrooke, Québec), Jean-François Niort (Université des Antilles et de la Guyane), Romain Bertrand (Fondation nationale des Sciences politiques), Eric de Mari (Université Montpellier 1).

Places

  • Faculté de droit et de sciences politiques, université Montpellier 1
    Montpellier, France (34)

Date(s)

  • Thursday, May 15, 2014

Keywords

  • histoire du droit colonial, histoire de la justice coloniale, ancien régime colonial

Contact(s)

  • Éric Wenzel
    courriel : eric [dot] wenzel [at] univ-avignon [dot] fr

Information source

  • Éric Wenzel
    courriel : eric [dot] wenzel [at] univ-avignon [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Themis outre-mer: Justice, judicial and judiciary adaptation and appropriation during the first colonial system (circa 1500-1800) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, September 13, 2013, https://calenda.org/259089

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