CFP: Simpósio Temático 28 - Law, Colonialism, and Legal Encounters in Mesoamerica and the Andes (16th-18th centuries)

Angela Ballone's picture

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Call for Papers
February 23, 2018 to April 6, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Atlantic History / Studies, Colonial America, Law and Legal History, Slavery, Spanish and Portuguese History / Studies


Law is a privileged terrain for contest and cultural appropriation. In the colonial experience of the Americas, the European powers procured to impose their legal ideologies, orders, and notions of justice and rights. However, as the most recent historiography indicates, the colonized and enslaved peoples (indigenous and Africans) appropriated these legal discourses and sought to assert their own rights. This symposium examines the relevance of legal discourses and its associated social practices in Mesoamerica and the Andes during that crucial period. By reviewing several cases from a comparative perspective, this symposium seeks to appreciate the numerous facets of law and colonialism. Law was not only the cutting edge of the colonial enterprise but also a valuable instrument for subaltern groups. Jurists and lawyers participated in the making of colonial laws as well as the laymen (caciques, women, indigenous subjects, Africans) throughout their uses and circulation of legal practices and ideologies.

Due to the emphasis on the legal professionalization, classic historiography focused on the role of lawyers as administrators of justice, professionals and jurists. They were seen as the prominent lawmakers in a complex and distant New World. In turn, new trends in legal and social historiography have reinterpreted the role of these professionals by placing them within a multiethnic environment. Jurists collected information from indigenous/African voices and recreated their ideas and historical experiences in and outside the courts. Likewise, indigenous leaders and their subjects used legal discourses from a pluralistic basis to assert local autonomy and personal/patrimonial rights. Women went to the court demanding the recognition of their faculties. What’s more, people from African descent did use the Spanish American civil and canonical courts since the mid-sixteenth century. Law was a central tool in the political organization of the Spanish American world. Native scribes, indigenous translators, litigants, alcaldes, informal practitioners were central actors in the to day practice of law and in the indigenous government. Indigenous cabildos were the central political examples of the República de Indios. Spanish jurists created the thesis of two legal spheres (one for Spaniards and the another for Indians) generating new legal spaces for the native peoples. Cabildos de naturales were a vibrant organized community in the Hispanic world.

The deadline for submitting a paper proposal to one of the EIHC’s Thematic Symposia is the 6th of April 2018 (please, keep on mind that registration at a discounted rate is available from 01/02/2018 to 05/03/2018). You can fill the online form on the official website of the conference (link to the dedicated form: ), following this format: Title of paper/presentation, in caps lock, size 12, bold, centralised; Full name of the authors with the respective institutional affiliations (universities, research groups, state research agencies, etcetera); Abstract stating the goals, sources, and justification of the paper’s research (1,200 to 2,000 characters including spaces) on Times New Roman typeface, size 12, spacing 1.5, alignment justified; Payment receipt of the author or the authors must be attached in the submission form (in cases of communication in coauthors both must pay the inscription). Presenters can select, in order of preference, up to three thematic symposia to present their papers.


Contact Info: 

Coordinators of the Symposium: Angela Ballone (MPIeR) and Renzo Honores (Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad)