In this colloquium, a historian and a translator each reflect on the challenges of conveying and interpreting the voices found in judicial archives of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
From appeals presented to the French king seeking the imprisonment of “disorderly” spouses and children, to suits for freedom from slavery in antebellum Louisiana courts, judicial archives yield fragments of ‘captured speech’ that can reveal popular understandings of law and justice. What is it that supplicants and litigants hoped might be heard within their appeals, and how did their claims differ from the law as codified?
Rebecca Scott is co-author with Jean Hébrard of Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation, published by Harvard University Press, which won the 2012 Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association.
Thomas Scott-Railton is the translator of Arlette Farge, The Allure of the Archives, published by Yale University Press, and a finalist for the 2013 non-fiction translation prize from the French-American Foundation. He is currently translating Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault, Le Désordre des familles.
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