Historians have long treated the Atlantic and Indian Ocean routes of early modern French empire separately. But, early modern people understood France as a bi-oceanic empire, connected by vast but strong pathways of commercial, intellectual, and legal exchange. Laurie M. Wood
’s Archipelago of Justice: Law in France’s Early Modern Empire
(Yale UP, 2020) recasts our view of France’s empire by evaluating the interwoven trajectories of the people, like itinerant ship-workers and colonial magistrates, who built France’s first empire in the Atlantic and
Indian Oceans in the long eighteenth century. Imperial subjects like these sought political and legal influence via law courts, with strategies that reflected local and regional priorities, especially in regards to slavery, war, and trade. Courts became liaisons between France and new colonial possessions.
Byline: Dr. Julia M. Gossard is assistant professor of history and distinguished assistant professor of honor’s education at Utah State University. A historian of 18th-century France, Julia’s manuscript, Young Subjects, examines children as important actors in social reform, state-building, and imperial projects across the early modern French world. Dr. Gossard is active on Twitter. To learn more about her teaching, research, and experience in digital humanities, visit her website.