Recent Historical Research on Slavery and Law: Justine K. Collins and Filip Batselé

Among the regular publications on the topic of slavery, it is worth pointing to two recent pieces of research, both demonstrate the importance of reflecting on the law and slavery, both are the product of postgraduate work. 

The first is Filip Batselé’s Liberty, Slavery and the Law in Early Modern Western Europe: Omnes Homines aut Liberi sunt aut servi (Springer, 2020). This originated in a fine masters thesis and has now been turned into a book. As well as an admirably clear interaction to Greek, Roman, and mediaeval accounts, the book focuses on slavery and the law in Europe in the era of the slave trade, reflecting in particular on the attitudes of the law both in books and in courts in England, France, and the Low Countries. It is clear and thorough and full of interesting insights.

In December 2020, a colleague drew to your blogger’s attention the successful defence of a very important doctoral thesis in Germany by Justine K. Collins. The thesis was defended at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, with the research supported through the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History. See The thesis concerned the transplantation of English law to Caribbean colonies, and then the transplantation of slave law within the colonies, taking this through to emancipation. The work raises issues of racial identities and laws and was entitled “Tracing Legal Transplantation within the British West Indies: An Analysis of the Development and Role of Slavery Legislation (1500s-1800s)”