JCB Hosts NYU Law Professor Maggie Blackhawk (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe)

The Constitution of American Colonialism: A Talk by Maggie Blackhawk

The John Carter Brown Library hosted Professor Maggie Blackhawk on the evening of Thursday, May 16, 2024. Professor Blackhawk was welcomed by the JCB’s Director & Librarian, Karin Wulf, and introduced by Kimberly Toney, Coordinating Curator for Native American and Indigenous Materials.

Professor Blackhawk discussed her Harvard Law Review essay on the "The Constitution of American Colonialism,” which explores the ways that the US Constitution has developed alongside laws that govern other territories and peoples–including Native Americans within the United States. Professor Blackhawk argues that “Rather than engage with questions born of American colonialism, we have instead declared these puzzles as beyond our constitutional theory and left them to the “plenary power” of the political branches to solve. Yet, these colonized nations and peoples have lived on and continue to shape the government, the Constitution, and the empire we live with today.”

In keeping with the JCB’s commitment to offer hybrid access to all of our events, community members were welcome to join us in the Reading Room or via Zoom, and both versions of the event were well attended. We were glad to see so many students as well as faculty and community folks in the audience. Professor Blackhawk fielded several incisive questions from the group, and generously expanded on her discussion of American colonialism, constitutional law, and their impact on Indigenous and other marginalized communities as well as US territories.

It was an honor to host Professor Blackhawk at the John Carter Brown Library as we launch into our programming for 20026 and Beyond. We look forward to continuing the conversation in the coming weeks and months through our Library programs and events. Be sure to visit our website frequently for details!