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Justice in a New WorldNegotiating Legal Intelligibility in British, Iberian, and Indigenous America$
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Brian P. Owensby and Richard J. Ross

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479850129

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479850129.001.0001

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Making Law Intelligible in Comparative Context

Making Law Intelligible in Comparative Context

(p.1) 1 Making Law Intelligible in Comparative Context
Justice in a New World

Brian P. Owensby

Richard J. Ross

NYU Press

In this opening chapter, Owensby and Ross offer a conceptual, theoretical, and historiographical framing of “legal intelligibility” and explore its relevance to understanding interimperial legalities from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. They advocate an explicitly comparative approach between Iberian and British legal systems as these played out on the ground, while arguing that a deep understanding of law and justice in these settings requires equally close attention to indigenous legal ideas and practices. The authors argue that imperial and indigenous legal presuppositions informed, shaped, and sometimes misdirected legal encounters. At the heart of the process is what they call “legal intelligibility”—how and to what extent legal regimes and associated notions of justice became intelligible to settlers and Natives who faced each other across the terrain of law.

Keywords:   justice, legal systems, legal intelligibility, imperial legalities

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