LAW 966

Enslavement and Racialization in U.S. Legal History

Critical Race Studies

This course will explore the origins of racialization in the United States, focusing on the law, culture, and economy of enslavement and its aftermath. We will read original documents, including excerpts of trial transcripts, appellate opinions, treatises, codes, and first-person narratives. We will study the way law, politics and culture interacted to shape the institution of slavery and the development of modern ideologies and practices of race and racism.  Course lectures and discussions will focus on questions such as:  How did different legal regimes (Spanish, French, British) foster different systems of race and enslavement in the Americas? How did/does law work “on the ground” to shape the production of racial hierarchy and creation of racial identities? In what ways did slavery influence the U.S. Constitution? How has race shaped citizenship in the U.S.? The course will begin with the origins of New World slavery, race and racism, and move chronologically through to the mid-twentieth century. The course will give students a short introduction to system racism in U.S. law.

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