Africana Legal Studies (LAW-795AL-001)
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Western law—like Western religion, Western fashion, Western individualism, and Western education—was imposed on African people through enslavement, colonialism, and imperialism. But the history of African people and their thinking on law or rules for social living does not begin with these atrocities. This is the central, initial recognition of Africana legal studies. This seminar focuses on the application of disciplinary Africana studies methodology to the story of law and African people, including continental and diasporic Africans (i.e., African descendants), and it explores indigenous African ways of knowing law and governance systems. It will explore the need for application of an Africana Studies lens to legal scholarship, the tenets of Africana studies, and the contours of Africana legal studies. The course will explore a theoretical framework for how to identify and distill African governance that arose in the precolonial, pre-enslavement (“pre-Maafa”) era and persisted into the Maafa—governance rules that will be defined in this class as “protocol.” It will examine how Africana protocols evolved in the face of Western colonialism, European enslavement and other externally-imposed social structures and how Western law interrupted and interfered with Africana protocols. From participating in this African-centered exploration of law and protocol, students may derive insights and strategies for addressing the issues of today, legal and beyond. The writing requirement offers students an opportunity to write and present on a topic of their choice pertaining to Africana legal studies.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
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