This is a call for papers in anticipation of a one-day conference to be organized by Brian Owensby (University of Virginia) and Richard Ross (University of Illinois) through the Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History. The conference, to be held at the Newberry Library in Chicago on Friday, April 23, 2021, is entitled, “Law, Theology, and the Moral Regulation of ‘Economy’ in the Early-Modern Atlantic World.”
The time is long past when the Western world’s emergent commercial culture could be understood solely in terms of a Protestant ethos or the division between commerce and social morality occasioned by the Protestant Reformation. Scholarship has shown that “modern” ideas regarding commerce and “economics” had their roots in late-medieval Catholic thought and in neo-scholastic ideas that blended theology, justice, and law. Protestants and Catholics alike, facing the moral and social implications of novel “economic” relations, undertook deep theological and legal reflections regarding unbridled, competitive, exchange-oriented gain seeking. Many of these concerns were raised in the context of Europe’s westward expansion to the New World. This conference will bring together historians, legal scholars, and social scientists to investigate law’s historical role in enabling and regulating behaviors now recognized as foundational to modern economies.
Interested presenters should submit an abstract of between 200 and 500 words and a c.v. by March 15, 2020 to Richard Ross [firstname.lastname@example.org]. For more information on the Symposium, visit the website.