The wide-ranging chapters of this ambitious volume advance our understanding of how Natives and settlers in both the British and Iberian New World empires strained to use the other’s law as a political, strategic, and moral resource. Europeans and Natives appealed to imperfect understandings of their interlocutors’ notions of justice and advanced their own conceptions during workaday negotiations, disputes, and assertions of right. Settlers’ and indigenous peoples’ legal presuppositions shaped and sometimes misdirected their resort to each other’s law. Each misconstrued the other’s legal commitments while learning about them. The contributors explore the problem of “legal intelligibility”: how and to what extent did settler law and its associated notions of justice became intelligible—tactically, technically, and morally—to Natives, and vice versa? To address this question, the volume goes beyond existing scholarship, which juxtaposes settlers’ and Natives’ understanding in empire-specific circumstances, by adding another axis of comparison, that between English and Iberian New World empires. Chapters probe such topics as treaty negotiations, land sales, and the corporate privileges of indigenous peoples. Understanding the conflict and transformation of notions of justice and law through a dual comparative study of legal intelligibility is the objective of this volume.
- Iberian New World
- indigenous peoples