Monday, February 8, 2010

Read On! The Origins of African-American Interests in International Law

(Read On! ... occasional posts on writing worth reading)

In honor of the celebration of Black History Month, I recommend Henry J. Richardson III's excellent book: The Origins of African-American Interests in International Law (2008). In this wide-ranging and probing exploration, Richardson, a professor of international law at Temple Law School, identifies and tracks the interests of African-Americans and African-heritage people in international law. His examination begins with the presence of African-heritage people in the New World before the arrival of the Jamestown Twenty, and continues up to and including the War of 1812.
Using the framework and theories of the New Haven School, Richardson deploys a detailed and thorough knowledge of history and international law to probe the "what ifs." That is, if the African-American and African-heritage people of those different eras had had access to the theories, international law conceptions, social institutions, and lawyers, what are the claims that they would have made in regard to their enslavement and subordination. How would they have advocated that international law be defined and interpretated? Acknowledging the necessarily speculative nature of some of his claims, throughout the this masterful work, Richardson demonstrates a passion for American and international legal history and responds to any potential skeptism regarding the interests, claims and stakes of the subordinated African-Americans and African-heritage peoples in the evolution and development of international law. Richardson ends with an invitation for further research.
Read this book, and respond to the two challenges: to learn more about African-American history and the implications for international law AND to be inspired to delve into further research on these topics.

1 comment:

Jaya Ramji-Nogales said...

Thanks for the great post, Karen. As a colleague and fan of Henry's, I second the recommendation!