Court Cases in African Archives

© khk

Internationaler Workshop

Donnerstag, 25. Mai 2023, bis Freitag, 26. Mai 2023


Käte Hamburger Kolleg (Iduna-Hochhaus)
Raum 7011
Servatiiplatz 9
48143 Münster


Dr. João Figueiredo
Käte Hamburger Kolleg Münster

Dr. Mariana Armond Dias Paes
Max-Planck-Institut für Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtstheorie


bis zum 11. Mai 2023

via Indico

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Africa is usually absent from Global Legal History debates. Working on local archives, with locally produced sources such as court cases, can be a method to overcome this blind spot. Court cases are very privileged historical sources since they show the actual engagement of the local population in disputing the concrete meanings of legal norms and legal categories. They also allow us to understand better the interaction of different normative systems that shaped law and the resolution of conflicts in colonial societies. Court cases abound in Lusophone Africa archives. However, despite the richness of their collections, the documents are often unorganized and unidentified, making it very difficult for the academic community to use them. This workshop addresses the methodological challenges and historiographical opportunities of working with processes held in African archives.


Thursday, 25 May 2023

14.00 | Welcome and Introduction

14.30 | Section 1

Mariana Armond Dias Paes (Frankfurt am Main) | Court Cases and Legal Pluralism in Portuguese Colonial Africa

Luíz Cabral de Oliveira (Lisbon) | Law in Books vs Law in Action: Félix Correia de Araújo, a Remarkable Angolan Judge in the Late 18th Century

16.00 | Coffee break

16.30 | Section 2

João Figueiredo (Münster) | The Records of “Trials of Gentilic Cases” in the National Archive of Angola (AHA)

Cristina Nogueira da Silva (Lisbon) | Colonial Justice in Mozambique (1915-1954): Preserving and Changing Indigenous Customary Law

18.30 | Dinner

Friday, 26 May 2023

10.30 | Keynote

Benedetta Rossi (London) | Rethinking the Abolition of Slavery in Africa’s Legal History

12.00 | Lunch in the Kolleg

13.00 | Section 3

Esteban Salas (London) | Freedom and Portuguese Legal Anxieties in Benguela at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century

Matheus Pereira (Lisbon) | Legal Processes of Assimilation from below: African Experiences in Mozambique during Portuguese Colonial Exploitation (c. 1900-1960)

14.40 | Coffee break

15.00 | Section 4

Fernanda Thomaz (Juiz de Fora, Brazil) | Power, Discourse and Matrimonial Conflicts in the Production of Court Cases in Northern Mozambique (1930-1950)

Sophie Kotanyi (Berlin) | Contemporary Audio-Visual Archive of Palaver and Treating a Case of Involuntary Kindoki ‘Witchcraft’ by Neutralizing it

16.30 | Final Remarks

17.00 | Farewell and Outlook