Events from 2020 to 2021

Slavery and the Law Conference Series 2020-2021

29 October 2020 - Accounting for Slavery. Mastery, Management and American Capitalism, with Professor Caitlin Rosenthal

In the second instalment of the 2020-2021 “Slavery and the Law” series, Professor Caitlin Rosenthal gave a guest lecture in Professor Ignacio Cofone's Business Associations class. Caitlin Rosenthal's book, Accounting for Slavery. Mastery, Management and American Capitalism (Harvard University Press, 2018), is a unique contribution to the decades-long effort to understand New World slavery’s complex relationship with capitalism. Through careful analysis of plantation records, Caitlin Rosenthal explores the development of quantitative management practices on West Indian and Southern plantations. She shows how planter-capitalists built sophisticated organizational structures and even practiced an early form of scientific management. They subjected enslaved people to experiments, such as allocating and reallocating labour from crop to crop, planning meals and lodging, and carefully recording daily productivity. The incentive strategies they crafted offered rewards, but also threatened brutal punishment.

About the speaker

Caitlin C. Rosenthal is an associate professor in the Department of History at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on the development of management practices, especially those based on data analysis. Methodologically, she seeks to blend qualitative and quantitative methods and to combine insights from business history, economic history, and labour history.

17 September 2020 - Lord Dalhousie Report on Slavery, with Professor Afua Cooper

For first instalment of the 2020-2021 “Slavery and the Law” series, Professor Afua Cooper (Dalhousie U) participated in a plenary class for the LAWG 220 Property / Les biens courses taught by Professors Tina Piper, Lionel Smith and Pierre-Emmanuel Moyse.

About the speaker

A faculty member of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of Dalhousie University, Professor Afua Cooper is the Chair of the Scholarly Panel on Lord Dalhousie's Relationship to Race and Slavery and co-author of the Report. She is also the former James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies.

Her research interests are African Canadian studies, with specific regard to the period of enslavement and emancipation in 18th and 19th century Canada and the Black Atlantic; African-Nova Scotian history; political consciousness; community building and culture; slavery’s aftermath; Black youth studies.

Black History Month 2020: Commemorating Christie v. York, 80 Years On

February 29, 2020

In 1939, Mr. Fred Christie, a member of the African Canadian community of Montreal, brought his case to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge lower courts’ decisions that upheld the Montreal tavern’s freedom of commerce and right to deny services to Black persons. His case is of particular significance to the McGill bicentenary, as it was championed by Union United Church members, through a Christie Defence Committee led by the second Black professor at McGill University, Dr. Kenneth Melville. Although the case was ultimately unsuccessful, the infamous pre-human rights Charter/ code decision, Christie v. York Corporation, [1940] SCR 139 has been widely taught in Canadian law schools, and remains a sobering reminder of law’s indeterminacy.

In order to commemorate this important chapter in Canadian legal history, to honour Mr. Christie and the Black community’s valiant battle for judicial recognition of their human rights and dignity, the McGill Faculty of Law and the Labour Law and Development Research Laboratory, the Centre for Research and Action on Race Relations, and the Union United Church co-hoste, on the last day of Black History Month, an afternoon symposium on Mr. Christie’s case.

The symposium featured two panels: the first panel focused on the life and times of Mr. Christie, and the second discussed present-day racism and the law in Canada.

At the symposium, we welcomed Mr. Terry Brazill, Mr. Christie’s grandson, and heard presentations by the Hon. Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, Quebec’s first Black judge (ret.); Professor Barrington Walker, a foremost historian of African Canadian legal history and Me Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E., the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.


Back to top