Bartolomé De Las Casas: A Radical Humanitarian in the Age of the Great Encounter
The Faces of Human Rights’ Kasey McCall-Smith, Jan Wouters and Felipe Gomez Isa (eds) Hart Publishers (2019, Forthcoming)
8 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2018
Date Written: August 19, 2018
Few lives may be as propitious to an understanding of the biographical genre as a way of addressing a larger historical theme than the life of the greatest advocate for justice and freedom for the Amerindian peoples in the sixteenth century. For generations, the life and works of Bartolomé de las Casas have served as lenses to look through at events and processes unleashed by the ‘great encounter’. Deeply intertwined with what came to be known as the ‘duda indiana’ (the ‘Indian Doubt’) among Spanish intellectual and political elites, were three interwoven dimensions that situate the praxis and theory of de las Casas’ life and work within the theological, moral and legal debates triggered by the Spanish Conquest of America. Traditionally, this has been considered as the birthdate of international law and, for some, building on the Lascasian legacy, of contemporary human rights law too.
Keywords: Human Rights, Discovery of America, Spain, History of International Law, Spanish classics
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