Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Crabtree, “Holy Nation”

This May, University of Chicago Press will release “Holy Nation: The Transatlantic Quaker Ministry in an Age of Revolution” by Sarah Crabtree (San Francisco State University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Early American Quakers have long been perceived as retiring separatists, but in Holy Nation Sarah Crabtree transforms our historical understanding of the sect by drawing on the sermons, diaries, and correspondence of Quakers themselves. Situating Quakerism within the larger intellectual and religious undercurrents of the Atlantic World, Crabtree shows how Quakers forged a paradoxical sense of their place in the world as militant warriors fighting for peace. She argues that during the turbulent Age of Revolution and Reaction, the Religious Society of Friends forged a “holy nation,” a transnational community of like-minded believers committed first and foremost to divine law and to one another. Declaring themselves citizens of their own nation served to underscore the decidedly unholy nature of the nation-state, worldly governments, and profane laws. As a result, campaigns of persecution against the Friends escalated as those in power moved to declare Quakers aliens and traitors to their home countries.

Holy Nation convincingly shows that ideals and actions were inseparable for the Society of Friends, yielding an account of Quakerism that is simultaneously a history of the faith and its adherents and a history of its confrontations with the wider world. Ultimately, Crabtree argues, the conflicts experienced between obligations of church and state that Quakers faced can illuminate similar contemporary struggles.

Carey & Plank (eds.), “Quakers and Abolition”

Next month, the University of Illinois Press will publish Quakers and 9780252038266Abolition, edited by Brycchan Carey (Kingston University, London) and Geoffrey Plank (University of East Anglia). The collection provides a wide-ranging exploration of Quakers’ views on slavery, from advocating for benevolent slaveholding to abolition. The publisher’s description follows.

This collection of fifteen insightful essays examines the complexity and diversity of Quaker antislavery attitudes across three centuries, from 1658 to 1890. Contributors from a range of disciplines, nations, and faith backgrounds show how Quakers often disagreed with one another and the larger antislavery movement about slavery itself and the best path to emancipation. Far from having monolithic beliefs, Quakers embraced such diverse approaches as benevolent slaveholding, both gradual and comprehensive abolition, and consumer boycotts of slave-produced products.

These evolving and uneven conceptions of slavery and emancipation were similar to the varied views Quakers had on racial integration. Offering a nuanced interpretation of these controversial topics–one that often diverges from existing scholarship–contributors discuss how Quakers attempted to live out their faith’s antislavery imperative. Essays address Quaker missions in Barbados; the interplay between African-American and Quaker communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; transatlantic correspondence between a colonialist Quaker and a freed slave who “returned-to-Africa” as a Liberian colonist; and the impact of Quaker-authored frontier literature.

Not surprisingly, this complicated and evolving antislavery sensibility left behind an equally complicated legacy. Focusing on Great Britain, France, and the United States, contributors show how Quaker antislavery actions and writings influenced revolutions and antislavery in those countries. Yet the Quaker contribution is also a hidden one because it so rarely receives substantive attention in modern classrooms and scholarship. This volume faithfully seeks to correct that oversight, offering accessible and provocative new insights on this key chapter of religious, political, and cultural history.

Stamatov, “The Origins of Global Humanitarianism: Religion, Empires, and Advocacy”

This month, Cambridge will publish The Origins of Global Humanitarianism:9781107021730 Religion, Empires, and Advocacy, by Peter Stamatov (Yale University). The publisher’s description follows.

Whether lauded and encouraged or criticized and maligned, action in solidarity with culturally and geographically distant strangers has been an integral part of European modernity. Traversing the complex political landscape of early modern European empires, this book locates the historical origins of modern global humanitarianism in the recurrent conflict over the ethical treatment of non-Europeans that pitted religious reformers against secular imperial networks. Since the sixteenth-century beginnings of European expansion overseas and in marked opposition to the exploitative logic of predatory imperialism, these reformers – members of Catholic orders and, later, Quakers and other reformist Protestants – developed an ideology and a political practice in defense of the rights and interests of distant “others.” They also increasingly made the question of imperial injustice relevant to growing “domestic” publics in Europe. A distinctive institutional model of long-distance advocacy crystallized out of these persistent struggles, becoming the standard weapon of transnational activists.

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