Native Claims: Indigenous Law against Empire, 1500-1920 by Saliha Belmessous

By Saliha Belmessous

This groundbreaking number of essays indicates that, from the instant ecu growth started via to the 20th century, indigenous peoples from the US, Africa, Australia and New Zealand drafted felony innovations to contest dispossession. the tale of indigenous resistance to ecu colonization is widely known. yet legal resistance has been wrongly understood to be a comparatively contemporary phenomenon. those essays reveal how indigenous peoples in the course of the international antagonistic colonization not just with strength, but additionally with rules. They made claims to territory utilizing criminal arguments drawn from their very own knowing of a legislation that applies among peoples - one of those legislation of countries, reminiscent of that being built by way of Europeans. The members to this quantity argue that during the face of indigenous criminal arguments, ecu justifications of colonization will be understood now not as an unique and originating felony discourse yet, at the very least partly, as a kind of counter-claim.

Native Claims: Indigenous legislations opposed to Empire, 1500-1920 brings jointly the paintings of eminent social and criminal historians, literary students, and philosophers, together with Rolena Adorno, Lauren Benton, Duncan Ivison, and Kristin Mann. Their mixed services makes this quantity uniquely expansive in its insurance of a very important factor in worldwide and colonial historical past. some of the essays deal with 16th- and seventeenth-century Latin the United States, 17th- and eighteenth-century North the United States (including the British colonies and French Canada), and nineteenth-century Australasia and Africa. there is not any different e-book that examines the difficulty of eu dispossession of local peoples in this type of way.

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Cortés, Pizarro, and other conquistadors used the founding of towns and other rituals, including raising banners, as acts of possession, often in response to threats by other Spanish officials seeking to position themselves as having first laid claim to particular regions in the name of the king. Examples include Cortés’s founding of Segura de la Possessing Empire: Iberian Claims and Interpolity Law 39 Frontera as he eyed the approach of a rival force off the coast of New Spain, and the many references to ceremonies of possession under similar circumstances in the conquest of Peru.

The legitimacy of acquisition was relevant only when a specific rival was arguing that a thing had been taken by force or stealth from that rival rather than from some third party. In the case of imperial territories, their seizure from indigenous peoples would have been irrelevant to a contest over possession by competing empires. At the same time, however, it was possible to imagine a European and a nonEuropean polity as rivals in a dispute over possession. 11 To do so would not have precluded them from comparing their case for possession to claims by a European rival in another context.

Possession had certain features that made it especially attractive in interimperial conflicts. In seeking to support a claim to possession rather than title through occupation, imperial powers were able to focus on presenting better evidence in support of title than that offered by another. This feature made the claim especially useful to imperial agents in situations in which they faced specific imperial rivals: for example, Spanish and Portuguese agents in competition with one another, or French, Dutch, or English agents refuting the claims of an Iberian power.

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