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Week 2: Religion and Rights 1


Religion and Rights 1: Scholasticism, evangelization and the Catholic Church.

How has religious thought contributed to the development of human rights in Latin America? To what extent can we trace thinking on human rights back to Hispanic Scholasticism? When did the idea of group rights start?

Primary sources:

Antonio de Montesinos, "Christmas Eve Sermon of 1511" on Just Treatment of Indians

Bartolome de Las Casas, A short account of the destruction of the Indies,edited and translated by Nigel Griffin with an introduction by Anthony Pagden. Penguin, 2004. (Original written in1542 and published in 1552)

Ronald D. Hussey. "Text of the Laws of Burgos (1512-1513) Concerning the Treatment of the Indians."The Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 12, no. 3, 1932, pp. 301–326.

"Laws of Burgos (1512-1513)" "New Laws of the Indies" and "Juan Gines de Sepulveda's Treatise on the Just Causes of War." in Bartolome de las Casas, An account, much abbreviated, of the destruction of the Indies, with related texts / edited, with an introduction, by Franklin W. Knight, translated by Andrew Hurley.

Translations of these are also available online:

Laws of Burgos (1512-1513): royal ordinances for the good government and treatment of the Indians Translated by Peter Bakewell, The New Laws of the Indies, 1542, (Fordham History Sourcebook) and Juan Gines de Sepulveda's Treatise on the Just Causes of War, 1547.

Core Readings:

Felipe Gómez Isa. “Spain: The First Cry for Justice in the Americas - From Antonio De Montesinos to the Laws of Burgos (1512).First Fundamental Rights Documents in Europe: Commemorating 800 Years of Magna Carta, edited by Markku Suksi et al., Intersentia, 2015, pp. 93–106.

Anthony Pagden, "Dispossessing the Barbarian: The Language of Spanish Thomism and the Debate over the Property Rights of the American Indians" in Pagden (ed.),The Languages of Political Theory in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1987), 79-98.

Patricia Seed 'Are These Not Also Men?': The Indians' Humanity and Capacity for Spanish Civilisation’, Journal of Latin American Studies 25:3 (1993), 629-652.

Further Reading:

Louise M. Burkhart. The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 1989.

Daniel Castro. Another Face of Empire: Bartolome; de Las Casas, Indigenous Rights, and Ecclesiastical Imperialism, Duke University Press, 2007.

Jack Donnelly, ‘Human Rights as Natural Rights’, Human Rights Quarterly 4:3 (Autumn 1982), 391-405.

Lewis Hanke. The Spanish struggle for justice in the conquest of America, 1949

Brian Tierney, The Idea of Natural Rights, Emory, 1997.

Brian Tierney "Religious Rights an Historical Perspective." in John Witte, Jr., and Johan D. van der Vyver (eds.) Religious human rights in global perspective: religious perspectives. The Hague/ Boston: M. Nijhoff Publishers.1996. (See chapter scan)

Timothy Bowers Vasko. "That They Will Be Capable of Governing Themselves Knowledge of Amerindian Difference and Early Modern Arts of Governance in the Spanish Colonial Antilles." History of the Human Sciences, vol. 32, no. 3, July 2019, p. 24.

Some Documentaries:

In Our Time: The Valladolid Debate, Radio 4, 20 February 2020