794 Law in Slavery & Freedom: From the Historical to the Contemporary

In this seminar we explore the ways in which slavery, long defined in the Americas as the ownership of property in human beings, interacted with the structures and practices of law across multiple jurisdictions, including the United States, the French colonial Caribbean, and British West Africa. We will examine how law addressed the category of “slave” and codified the power of slave owners, and how those held as slaves interacted with legal institutions and practices, both civil and criminal. We will also ask when and whether that law sometimes provided a means by which to exit the status of slave and find formal freedom.

 

In two sessions near the end of the semester we will discuss contemporary slavery and human trafficking, and explore legal strategies that have been employed to combat such practices, including the use of domestic criminal and labor law (in Brazil and the United States), and international law (particularly in the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, and in the European Court of Human Rights).

Course Frequency*
Course Areas of Practice

Sections

Spring 2017
2017
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

794.01 2
  • Shorter reaction papers
  • Final paper (10+ pages in length)
  • Oral presentation
  • Class participation
Rebecca Scott M 2:00-3:50 PM 3171

In this seminar we explore the ways in which slavery, long defined in the Americas as the ownership of property in human beings, interacted with the structures and practices of law across multiple jurisdictions, including the United States, the French colonial Caribbean, and British West Africa. We will examine how law addressed the category of “slave” and codified the power of slave owners, and how those held as slaves interacted with legal institutions and practices, both civil and criminal. We will also ask when and whether that law sometimes provided a means by which to exit the status of slave and find formal freedom.

 

In two sessions near the end of the semester we will discuss contemporary slavery and human trafficking, and explore legal strategies that have been employed to combat such practices, including the use of domestic criminal and labor law (in Brazil and the United States), and international law (particularly in the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, and in the European Court of Human Rights).

Syllabus: PDF icon 794.01.Spring2017-syllabus.pdf

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2015
Fall 2015
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

794.01 2 Thavolia Glymph Tu 10:30-12:20 PM Room 4044
What does the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) have to do with the problem of women and children refugees, questions of statelessness, forced labor, wartime atrocities, human rights, refugee camps, and the history of surveillance and containment?In this class, we will examine these questions in relation to the destruction of slavery and the conduct of hostilities (jus in bello) in the Civil War, focusing on enslaved and freed women and children who became wartime refugees. We will study and analyze the humanitarian and legal issues that arose in response to their flight and the establishment and management of refugee camps across the South. In the absence of the Geneva Accords of 1949 and the additional UN Protocols at the center of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), how did the U.S. respond to this refugee problem? What rights did congressional law, executive and war department decrees, and the Lieber Code allow and disallow? The study of black refugees and the establishment of refugee camps in the Civil War raise new questions about the origins of refugee and human rights law and the construction of human rights archives.The larger objective of the course is to place the story of black refugees in the Civil War within the broader context of refugee studies, human rights, and the law.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2013
Fall 2013
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

794.01 2 Tu 1:30-3:20 pm Room 4044
This course introduces students to the common law of American slavery. It focuses on the daily disputes that juries and judges adjudicated to demonstrate how slavery saturated southern law, encompassing not only conflicts over freedom and race, but also inheritance, mortgages, marriage, torts, contracts, and property. In the process the course continually returns to what we expect from a rule of law while engaging some of the major debates that have dominated slavery studies over the last thirty years. These include the salience of race versus class in American slavery; its similarities and differences from other enslaving cultures; whether to characterize it as a totalitarian legal and political system; the extent to which those parts of the nation that preceded the South in abolishing slavery could be characterized as "free"; whether slavery was "efficient"; its impact on black culture, especially on the black family; slavery's gender and class effects; the possibility of love and erotic desire under slavery; questions of slave resistance; and, of course, the role of law in implementing, reinforcing, and sustaining slavery. Weekly readings include cases and treatise excerpts, as well as secondary scholarly sources.Each student will write either a research paper or do a set of three assignments, including a book review and analysis of historical and legal documents.Instructor: Adrienne Davis

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2012
Fall 2012
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

794.01 2 Paul Finkelman Tu 1:30-3:20 pm Tu 1:30-3:20 pm Room 4046

What does the U.S. Civil War have to do with the problem of refugees, statelessness, and the humanitarian rights of women and children? In the absence of the Geneva Accords of 1949 and the additional UN Protocols at the center of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), how did the U.S. respond to the women and children refugees during the Civil War of 1861-65?  This course examines these questions in relation to property making (and holding) in slaves, the conduct of hostilities  (jus in bello) in the Civil War, and the particular problems of women in relation to armed conflict?  We will study the long history of refugees and refugee camps and human rights law that arose in response to the flight of slaves during the Civil War.  The fact that the refugee camps under study were populated predominantly by black women and children raises new questions about gender and human rights archives and the consequences for struggles over freedom and citizenship.  Course discussions will focus on the laws of war; war, race, and gender; and the making of refugee camps and policies in the 19th century U.S.  Readings for the course will include laws of war and treaties, congressional resolutions, the papers of Civil War humanitarian agencies, military commanders, and treasury department, officials, the Official Records of the War of Rebellion, records of Civil War refugee camps, and secondary sources.  Students in the course are required to prepare two weekly discussion questions, lead one discussion of the readings over the course of the semester, and submit a 30- page final research paper which satisfies the upper-level writing requirement. Students will submit at least one draft of the final paper and revise with input from the instructor. 

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.