This is a call for papers in anticipation of a one-day conference to be organized by Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra (University of Texas) and Richard Ross (University of Illinois) through the Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History [https://law.illinois.edu/faculty-research/specialty-programs/legal-history/]. The conference, to be held at the Newberry Library in Chicago on Friday, October 26, 2018, is entitled, “Arguing for the Rule of Law: Using the Hebrew Bible and Caricatures of Foreigners in British and Spanish America.” It will address the following topic: How did settlers, imperial officials, indigenous peoples, and Africans in the New World seek to demonstrate, or disprove, that a polity respected the rule of law? (The phrase “rule of law” is modern; but the core of the idea is not). Colonial rule invited accusations of arbitrary government and systematic lawlessness. This conference will focus on two common techniques used to assess whether a polity respected the supremacy of law. First, controversialists asked whether governance accorded with God’s expectations of justice as laid out in Scripture, particularly the Hebrew Bible. Second, caricatures of other societies could be held up to make one’s own appear lawful and just, or the reverse. British American settlers applauded the civility of their law by reference to the presumed barbarism of the Irish and Amerindians. They saw liberty in their exploitive legal order by opposing it to the supposed absolutism of the Spanish and French empires. Spanish settlers justified their rule and derecho by contrasting them to the law of indigenous polities and of their New World rivals. The conference will bring together historians, law professors, and social scientists to think about the complex debates about the rule of law in the English and Iberian Atlantic.
Interested presenters should submit an abstract of between 200 and 500 words and a c.v. by November 8, 2017. Please send submissions and inquiries to Richard Ross [email@example.com]; 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 September 2018. Papers will be pre-circulated and read by all participants. The conference will pay for travel and hotel expenses.
University of Illinois College of Law
504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820