Journal of Civil Law Studies


jurisdiction, complexity, Acadia, France, civil law, 17th century, 18th century, legal pluralism


During the second half of the 17th century of French formally institutionalized colonial power in Acadia, the province was in an interesting state of jurisdictional complexity insofar as French colonists were concerned. While native Amerindians, mostly Malecites and Micmawqs, carried their precolonial political order and jurisdictional organisation without almost any interference of the colonial power, imported normative systems derived from feudalism, the Catholic Church, French colonial order, French provincial customs and family organisation were juxtaposed and interacted, each of them were a well-known part of the Western legal tradition. Yet—and this is the most interesting—the state power, which was prevalent on the books, was virtually completely absent or ineffective during this period. As a result, Acadia could thus provide an interesting example of “critical” (the Roderick Macdonald’s formulation) or “radical” (the Jacques Vanderlinden’s formulation) legal plural-ism, both located outside of any specific state system, though without excluding law from the policy of the social landscape.

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