Document Type


Publication Date

January 2009

Journal Title

South African Journal of Human Rights


This short review evaluates Professor Richardson's book both as a contribution to the history of the Atlantic slave trade and as contribution to critical race theory.

Professor Richardson has read innumerable historical monographs, works of legal and sociological theory, international law and critical race theory. Armed with this store of knowledge, he is able to recount a detailed narrative of African-American claims to, interests in and appeals to international law over approximately two centuries spanning, with occasional peeks both forward and backward in time, from the landing of the first African slaves at Jamestown in 1619 to the 1815 Treaty of Ghent.

The work partakes of some of the narrative and methodological strategies of the critical race theory tradition, including the fictive reconstruction of historical events, with new African-American voices added to the mix. But Professor Richardson is equally at ease with the approach to international law of the New Haven School, and he is thus able to write with great authority of how African-American history can be understood to have comprised a tradition of appeals to international law or international legal norms as a source of remediation for the injustices that African-heritage people suffered in the Americas.


This review is forthcoming in Volume 24 of the South African Journal of Human Rights