Legal Transfers in Caribbean Legal History
Three members of the research field “Legal Transfers in the Common Law World” attended the 51st Annual Association of Caribbean Historians Conference in Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean. It was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Curaçao uprising of 30 May 1969, known as Trinta di Mei in Papiamento, the local language. In the opening panel, local participants gave their eyewitness account of the events that culminated in Trinta di Mei, which began as a labour dispute over working conditions at the oil company Shell but soon became an uprising. The riots, arson and contestation called attention to cultural and racial divisions in Curaçaoan society and, more recently, have helped define a Curaçaoan identity. The fitting theme of the Conference asked participants to reflect on ‘Resistance: A View from the Margins’.
Justine Collins organised the panel on ‘Legal Reverberations in Caribbean History’, where she gave a paper on amelioration and manumission. She analysed the similarities and differences between property and succession law in England and the British Caribbean in the late eighteenth century. Emily Whewell spoke about the interplay between English, French and colonial law in the context of the deportation of fugitives in Trinidad around the turn of the twentieth century. She considered the question of subject-hood in the British Empire. Victoria Barnes discussed principles of commercial law and the introduction of law reporting in the British Caribbean. The first law reports were published in British Guiana in the late nineteenth century and they contributed to the development of commercial law in the region. These papers were received well by an enthusiastic, energetic and knowledgeable audience. Overall, the conference was attended by around 150 participants from a wide range institutions inside and outside the Caribbean.