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Comparative Studies of Law, Slavery and Race in the Americas

Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 6, 2010

USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 10-2

41 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2010  

Alejandro de la Fuente

University of Pittsburgh

Ariela Julie Gross

University of Southern California Law School

Date Written: February 9, 2010

Abstract

This critical essay surveys the historical research comparing U.S. and Latin American law and slavery. An earlier generation of comparative work on race and slavery, by Frank Tannenbaum and others, drew heavily on law to draw sharp contrasts between U.S. and Latin American slavery, emphasizing the relative harshness of U.S. slave law. Revisionist social historians criticized Tannenbaum for providing a misleading top-down history based on metropolitan codes, and pointed to demographic and economic factors to explain variations in slavery regimes. More recently, legal historians have begun to explore law “from the bottom up” – slaves’ claims in court, trial-level adjudications, and interactions among ordinary people and low-level government officials. While most studies stay within one national context, some scholars have begun to look at slavery and freedom in the transnational context of the Atlantic world, and others have attempted comparisons of manumission in localities across legal regimes.

Suggested Citation

de la Fuente, Alejandro and Gross, Ariela Julie, Comparative Studies of Law, Slavery and Race in the Americas (February 9, 2010). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 6, 2010; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 10-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1550427

Alejandro De la Fuente

University of Pittsburgh ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Ariela Julie Gross (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Law School ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-4793 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

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