Research Programme STARACO, University of Nantes (France)
Summer Programme at Casa de Velázquez (Madrid, Spain)
The STARACO project (STAtus, ‘Race’ and Colour in the Atlantic World from Antiquity to the Present), financed by the French Region Pays de la Loire, is offering support for doctoral students and post-docs (from Europe, Africa and the Americas) to participate in the Summer Programme in Madrid, 23-27 June 2014, on the subject “The Rights of Minorities by Race or Colour in the Atlantic from Antiquity to the Present.”
This project is organized by Antonio de Almeida Mendes, Associate Professor in Early Modern history and Clément Thibaud, Associate Professor in Modern history.
For centuries, minorities have been defined by a juridical status that specified their place in society in relation to majority groups. The most well-known case is that of slavery, a status akin to civil death, assimilating individual people to objects. Nevertheless, studies have shown that slaves could, in case of need, call on a certain juridical capacity by virtue of the jurisdictional (and therefore jurisprudential) nature of ancient law. Free minorities, whether religious, ‘racial,’ or ethnic minorities, were also defined by special laws that specified their legal incapacities and occasionally certain privileges that protected them as legal minors. The focus of this Summer Programme is to trace out the implementation of law that sought to define the status, the obligations and the incapacities of minorities by bringing to light the origins of these normative systems and their change over time.
Three main subjects will be the focus of this Summer Programme:
a) Law and Status
A comparative approach over the longue durée will enable us to grasp the changes in forms of legal discrimination in order to establish their genealogy to the present day. Yet, the study of law alone is not sufficient, as social history has repeatedly shown. It is essential to understand how individual or collective subjects used law as a strategic resource in their everyday practices as well as in exceptional situations, and how these practices in turn redefined norms by being included in jurisprudence. Taking into account the uses of the law thus reveals the complexity of discrimination by highlighting spaces of negotiation in which, in a certain way, the rules could be challenged. Several studies have shown the ways in which minorities used the courts to assert their rights (and therefore have them recognized) in relation to their masters or employers, playing the public authorities’ protection against local elites.
b) Law and Citizenship
After centuries of juridical discrimination, with the expansion of citizenship to all free people of colour, to West Indians and then to former slaves, the legal frameworks changed more or less everywhere in the Atlantic area, even though reaching equality followed different chronologies in different continents. Nevertheless, achieving citizen status rarely erased all of the former juridical incapacities. It is important to clarify the process of integration towards citizenship with its eventual conflicts by comparing experiences on both sides of the Atlantic and by elucidating how the process functioned in multiple contexts. We must also better understand the various forms of action minorities used to attain citizenship.
c) Lasting Post-colonial Dynamics
Colonial experiences reveal the extent to which post-colonial dynamics of stigmatism, whether economic (maintaining hierarchies within economic life), cultural (continuity of prejudice and racism), or legal and political, have persisted over the longue durée. The inclusion of non-European populations within the privileged circle of citizenship was experienced as a promotion into the hierarchies of honour. It is worth questioning whether this revolution in equalizing status produced a rebound effect (such as the distinction between active and passive citizens that, in the multi-ethnic space of the Atlantic, reproduced the colour line between whites and non-whites). What were the political dynamics that fostered these new forms of political and legal discrimination in the very heart of liberal systems and republican regimes?
Paper proposals must be submitted in one of the Summer Programme’s working languages (English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese). The papers selected will then be reviewed and commented on by senior researchers. The ability to understand French is preferable.
Doctoral students and post-docs whose proposals have been selected are expected to attend all of the collective activities organised at the Summer Programme from 23-27 June 2014. In exchange, the STARACO project will pay for costs of transportation, lodging (5 nights) and meals (breakfast, lunch, and two dinners).
The two project coordinators, Antonio de Almeida Mendes, Associate Professor in Early Modern history and Clément Thibaud, Associate Professor in Modern history, will select the research projects.
Schedule and Application Deadlines
Publication of the Call for Papers: end of March, 2014
Deadline for Submitting Paper Proposals: 31 May 2014
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