Accommodating Empire: Comparing French and American Paths to the Legalization of Gay Marriage

Forthcoming in the Southern California Law Review, my essay on empire, immigration, Islam, and the legalization of gay marriage in France and the United States.  This is a “draft” typeset version; for the official and final published version please see 88 S. Cal. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2015).

Conference in Guadeloupe on the law of slavery and the slave trade

From Jean-François Niort in Guadeloupe, this call for papers (in French) for what looks to be a very important conference in March 2015 on the law of slavery and the slave trade; proposals due by October 30, 2014.

New laws of slavery database

A shout out to Dominique Rogers and Myriam Cottias for coordinating the just-released, massive new database on the laws of slavery and the slave trade, as part of the EURESCL initiative.  I have only fiddled with it briefly thus far, but it looks most impressive: a wide-ranging collection of statutory texts (with some “decisional” law bearing on the French colonies primarily, it seems — I was not able to see yet if there is case law from the Anglo-American jurisdictions).  Thank you Dominique Rogers and Myriam Cottias!

The French Revolutionary Decrees

Just announced via the Institut historique de la Revolution française, this online searchable collection of all 20,000 decrees and laws of the French revolutionary assemblies from 1789 to 1795.

An interview on The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution

Here is a recent interview with “Faculti” on my book The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution:


Religious Liberty and the Financial War on Terror

About to come out in volume 12 of First Amendment Law Review, my essay on “Religious Liberty and the Financial War on Terror.”  You can find a  “draft” typeset version here; for the official and final published version please see FALR N.b.: the article deals with some highly controversial cases involving Muslim charities in the post-9/11 era.  Please read before drawing conclusions.

“The Limits of Revolution”

For those in the Boston area on Feb. 27, here’s a nice image of a panel I will be doing at Brandeis that afternoon/evening on “The Limits of Revolution” with Chris Brown, Suzanne Desan, and myself.  The panel is part of the Brandeis Sawyer Seminar Rethinking the Age of Revolution (directed by Jane Kamensky and Sue Lanser with their fabulous postdoc fellow Julia Gaffield):


“The Other Revolution: Haiti, 1789-1804″ (version 2.0!)

I am thrilled and delighted that my old friends at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island (a favorite research location) have remounted a new version of the 2004 exhibition that I curated in connection with the JCB’s bicentennial conference on the Haitian Revolution.  The exhibition is open now through the end of April 2014 and is accompanied by a wonderful digital version that you can access here.  The new version of the exhibition is part of a collaboration between the JCB and the New York Historical Society.  If you have not yet seen the scintillating essays in the NYHS’s Revolution! volume that came out a few years ago (edited by Rabinowitz, Dubois, and Bender), by all means hasten to read them.  Thanks so much to Susan Danforth, the JCB’s George S. Parker Curator of Maps and Prints, for all she did to make this new edition of the exhibition possible, and to Leslie Tobias Olsen for work on the website version. Looking forward to marking the occasion with a lecture on Haiti at the JCB on March 8 and, even before then, at a Feb. 21 panel that is part of the “Curators on International Slavery” series at Brown on Feb. 20-21, 2014.

On “1763: A Revolutionary Peace”

This year is the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Peace of Paris ending the Seven Years War, and today marks 250 years to the day since King George III issued his Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763 reorganizing the British North American empire in the aftermath of that war.  Partly as a provocation, I sometimes tell folks that the Seven Years War and the diplomatic arrangements that ended it constitute the single most important set of events in modern Atlantic history.  Of course, on its face such an assertion is relatively meaningless: everything gives rise to everything else, back to the beginning of time.  But as a statement about the context out of which the Atlantic revolutionary era and thus the modern Atlantic world arises, it is hard to dispute.  Consider the following three massive land transfers or settlements that were occasioned by the war: “Canada” goes from the French to the British, “Louisiana” goes from the Spanish to the French, and “India” comes under the undisputed domination of the British (though the French Company of the Indies retained its principal trading ports along the Coromandel coast, most notably Pondichéry).  And that is just the beginning of the story: I am leaving out here the transformation of the Caribbean and the impact on the European sphere, for this was indeed arguably the first global military conflict.  “Things like this” just did not happen every day in the eighteenth century or in any other century.  So the next time my students react skeptically to another of my breathless evocations of the astonishing significance of the Seven Years War, I ask them to consider, as dispassionately as possible, the raw evidence!

This past Friday I went with a small group of my students from “How to Stage a Revolution” to see the Bostonian Society‘s wonderful (and now, sadly, closed) exhibit “1763: A Revolutionary Peace,” at the Old State House in Boston.  (The Bostonian Society is the organization now in charge of preserving the Old State House, the location of the Massachusetts colonial governor’s office and council chambers, and the backdrop to the 1770 Boston Massacre of John Adams fame.)  Thanks to Nat Sheidley, director of public history programs for the Society, and Donald Carlton, project director for the Peace of 1763 Commemoration, for a memorable tour, and for sharing their images of three extraordinary documents produced by the Seven Years War conflict.  The first is the signature page of Britain’s original manuscript copy of the Peace of Paris treaty, signed Feb. 10, 1763:

“Definitive Treaty of Peace and Alliance Between Great Britain, France and Spain,” principal signature page.  The National Archives of the UK, SP108/123

“Definitive Treaty of Peace and Alliance Between Great Britain, France and Spain,” principal signature page. The National Archives of the UK, SP108/123

The second is a 1755 proclamation by Massachusetts Lieut. Governor Phips setting prices on the heads of Penobscott Indians (three different prices, one for men, another for women, and a third for children of either sex under twelve).

By His Honour Spencer Phips, Esq;...A Proclamation…(Boston, 1755). Massachusetts Historical Society.

By His Honour Spencer Phips, Esq;…A Proclamation…(Boston, 1755). Massachusetts Historical Society.

And the third is the the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which, among other things, barred the American colonists from settling (further) into Indian country west of the Appalachian mountains (look to the final provisions at the lower right for the language in question):

By the King, a Proclamation (London, 1763). Massachusetts Archives

By the King, a Proclamation (London, 1763). Massachusetts Archives

There you have it.  Three extraordinary documents, one extraordinary war.  The Junto (an early Americanists blog) has an interesting post today on the Bostonian Society’s roundtable of this past Friday (Oct. 4) on the Royal Proclamation and the Seven Years War, wherein I learned of the energetic efforts of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies to recall especially the American Indian dimensions of the Seven Years War, including by way of a forthcoming conference on the December 1763 Conestoga Massacre carried out by the Paxton Boys (and denounced by Benjamin Franklin in a famous pamphlet).

Law and Humanities Workshop CFP

From Nomi Stolzenberg et al.:

“The University of Southern California Center for Law, History & Culture, UCLA School of Law, Columbia Law School, and Georgetown University Law School invite submissions for the tenth meeting of the Law & Humanities Junior Scholar Workshop to be held at USC School of Law in Los Angeles, CA on June 8 & 9, 2014.

The paper competition is open to untenured professors, advanced graduate students, and post-doctoral scholars in law and the humanities; in addition to drawing from numerous humanistic fields, we welcome critical, qualitative work in the social sciences. Based on anonymous evaluation by an interdisciplinary selection committee, between five and ten papers will be chosen for presentation at the June Workshop. At the Workshop, two senior scholars will comment on each paper. Commentators and other Workshop participants will be asked to focus specifically on the strengths and weaknesses of the selected scholarly projects, with respect to subject and methodology. The selected papers will then serve as the basis for a larger conversation among all the participants about the evolving standards by which we judge excellence and creativity in interdisciplinary scholarship, as well as about the nature of interdisciplinarity itself.

Papers should be works-in-progress between 10,000 and 15,000 words in length (including footnotes/endnotes), and must include an abstract of no more than 200 words. A dissertation chapter may be submitted, but we strongly suggest that it be edited so that it stands alone as a piece of work with its own integrity. A paper that has been submitted for publication is eligible so long as it will not be in galley proofs or in print at the time of the Workshop. The selected papers will appear in a special issue of the Legal Scholarship Network; there is no other publication commitment. The Workshop will pay the travel and hotel expenses of authors whose papers are selected for presentation.

Submissions (in Word, no pdf files) will be accepted until January 6, 2014, and should be sent by e-mail to: Center for the Study of Law and Culture, be sure to include your name, institutional affiliation (if any), telephone and e-mail contact information.
For more information contact Cindy Gao, 212.854.0167 or, and to see past winners go to:

Anne Dailey
Katherine Franke
Ariela Gross
Naomi Mezey
Paul Saint-Amour
Hilary Schor
Clyde Spillenger
Nomi Stolzenberg