People

Profiles

Professor Richard J Ross

Professor of History
LAW; Affiliated Faculty of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Center for Global Studies

User Photo

Contact Information

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Early American legal history in a comparative, Atlantic framework

Research Description

  • My research has dealt with several themes:

    (1) The Development of Early American Law in a Comparative Context: I am currently working on: The Beginnings of American Law: A Comparative History (under contract, Yale University Press) (with Steven Wilf). The book explores the origins of American law (c.1600-1820) with one eye on the Spanish and French New World empires and the other eye on Ireland and British India. The comparative approach can particularly illuminate how America came to see itself as a law-centered society. I am also co-editing with Lauren Benton a volume of essays, entitled, Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850 (forthcoming, NYU Press, 2012). This project illuminates the historical meaning and provenance of the concept of legal pluralism. And it explores how the legal pluralism so marked in overseas European empires influenced claims about sovereignty, the role of conquered subjects and religious minorities within empires, and the development of inter-imperial relations.

    (2) The Political and Intellectual History of Legal Communications: Representative articles include: “Legal Communications and Imperial Governance: British North America and Spanish America Compared,” in Cambridge History of Law in America, Volume 1: Early America (1580-1815), ed. Christopher L. Tomlins and Michael Grossberg (Cambridge, 2008), 104-143; and “The Memorial Culture of Early Modern English Lawyers: Memory as Keyword, Shelter, and Identity, 1560-1640,” Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities (1998), which received the honorable mention for the 1999 Sutherland Prize from the American Society for Legal History.

    (3) The Intertwined Influence of Law and Religion on Governance: Representative articles include: “Puritan Godly Discipline in Comparative Perspective: Legal Pluralism and the Sources of ‘Intensity,’” American Historical Review 113 (2008): 975-1002; and “Distinguishing Eternal from Transient Law: The Judicial Laws of Moses and Natural Law,” Past and Present (in press, 2012)

    I am the founder and director of the Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History, which meets under the auspices of the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library (Chicago). The Symposium yearly presents a conference that gathers law professors, historians, and social scientists to explore a particular topic in comparative legal history in the early modern period, broadly defined (c.1492-1815).

Education

  • PhD, Yale, 1998; JD, Yale, 1989

Publications

Books

  • Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850. . New York: NYU Press, 2013.
  • Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850. . Ed. Lauren Benton and Richard J. Ross. New York: New York University Press, 2012.

Book Contributions


  • "Reconstructing Early Modern Notions of Legal Pluralism." Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850. . 2013.

  • "Empires and Legal Pluralism: Jurisdiction, Sovereignty, and Political Imagination in the Early Modern World." Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850. . 2013.

  • "Spanish American and British American Law as Mirrors to Each Other: Implications of the Missing Derecho Británico Indiano." New Horizons of Spanish Colonial Law: Contributions to Transnational Early Modern Legal History. . Frankfurt: 2013.

  • Benton, Lauren, and Richard J. Ross. "Empires and Legal Pluralism: Jurisdiction, Sovereignty, and Political Imagination in the Early Modern World." Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850. . Ed. Lauren Benton and Richard J. Ross. New York: New York University Press, 2012.

  • Ross, Richard J., and Philip Stern. "Reconstructing Early Modern Notions of Legal Pluralism." Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850. . Ed. Lauren Benton and Richard J. Ross. New York: New York University Press, 2012.

Journal Articles

  • Ross, Richard J. "Distinguishing Eternal from Transient Law: Natural Law and the Judicial Laws of Moses." Past and Present (2012):
  • "The Relationship of Labor, Law, and Civic Identity in the British and Spanish Empires." William and Mary Quarterly 68 (2011):
  • Ross, Richard. "Legal Communications and Imperial Governance: British North America and Spanish America Compared." Cambridge History of Law in America, Volume 1: Early America (1580-1815) (2008): 104-143.
  • Ross, Richard. "Puritan Godly Discipline in Comparative Perspective: Legal Pluralism and the Sources of ‘Intensity'." American Historical Review 113 (2008): 975-1002.
  • Ross, Richard. "The Career of Puritan Jurisprudence." Law and History Review 26 (2008): 227-58.