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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.106

Lawful Colonial Acquisition? A critical re-examination of European colonial law and acquisition practices in northeastern South America


  • Constanze WEISKE

Primary authors


The lawfulness of European acquisition of Indigenous Peoples´ historical territories during colonization is commonly treated as uncontested, justified by the claim, that legal doctrines, such as terra nullius, conquest, occupation, and discovery had been legally valid at the initial stage of European colonization. This Paper challenges this assumption by providing an extensive re-examination of the European colonial history of northeastern South America from 1498 until 1817 along with the contemporarily valid European colonial law (in particular Francisco Vitoria and Hugo Grotius). By applying an innovative spatial approach, the Paper in result identifies both lines of conflict and cooperation between Europeans and Indigenous Peoples. Since the gained research results are also substantially challenging the yet broadly accepted assumption of the lawful acquisition during European colonization in the Americas and had identified significant unlawful [sic!] European acquisition practices in the light of European colonial law, the paper calls for reparations in terms of the return of Indigenous Peoples´historical territories and understands itself as a contribution to increase the solidarity and equality between the Global North and South. By rewriting the narratives of imperialism, this paper wishes to inspire a joint development of innovative approaches in researching global connections and networks of solidarity.