EGMT 1530: Sovereignty In a Time of Slavery

As Europeans invaded Africa, Asia, and the Americas between 1492 and the twentieth century – an extended period of colonialism that remains ongoing – they developed sophisticated legal theories, political philosophies, and religious frameworks to justify the unjustifiable taking of others’ lands and lifeways. Many of these theories were written by men whose investments in African and Indigenous slavery gave them the time and space to develop, ironically, universal definitions of human rights. How should we read these texts? What do we learn by studying them alongside Indigenous theories and practices from Turtle Island, Mēxihco Tenōchtitlan, and Michoacán? How can we use lessons from history to shed light on current debates like just warfare and Indigenous data sovereignty? These are the kinds of questions that we will explore together in the next seven weeks. By the end of the class, you will have a more nuanced understanding of Native American governance, European political theory, and the relationship between early modern globalization and our own time.