“No Such Place”: Law and Geography in Western Newfoundland, 1763-1778

Friday Seminar
Arianne Sedef Urus, McNeil Center for Early American Studies
Jan 13, 2023 at - | Location: McNeil Center for Early American Studies, 3355 Woodland Walk/Zoom

Arianne Sedef Urus

Arianne Sedef Urus, Barra Postdoctoral Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, is an environmental and legal historian of the eighteenth-century Atlantic World. Her current book project, provisionally titled “Common Shores: A Political Ecology of the Eighteenth-Century Newfoundland Cod Fisheries” rethinks prevailing understandings of the political economy of early modern European empires in the Atlantic World. It does so by using the tools of legal history and political ecology to analyze the most important site of eighteenth-century Franco-British rivalry: the Newfoundland cod fisheries. The manuscript examines questions of property and resource access rights on a number of levels, from the fishermen who fought over who could fish where to the Indigenous Beothuk, Inuk, and Mi’kmaw peoples whose access to resources was disrupted by the expansion of European fisheries and to the European diplomats who worked to avoid conflict and simultaneously achieve imperial strategic aims. It argues that the regime of joint commercial exploitation at work in Newfoundland reveals an under-theorized political economic dimension of early modern European empire worldwide that prioritized the importance of resource access, the projection of naval power, and the flow of capital while deemphasizing the paramountcy of territorial possession and claims of sovereignty.

Urus was previously a lecturer on History and Literature at Harvard, and she will be an Assistant Professor of Early American History at Cambridge beginning in the fall 2023, where she will be a fellow at Christ’s College.

Registration is required for the seminar. Please click on the button below to register.


The McNeil Center sponsors a seminar that meets on Friday afternoons approximately twice a month between September and May, with the paper for each session circulated in advance. Over two hundred people attend at least once a year, with an average attendance of 40 to 50 at meetings held at various sites in the Delaware Valley. While most of the regular attendees are graduate students and faculty from institutions in the Philadelphia area, participants come from as far afield as Long Island, New York City, Princeton, Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington. 

The McNeil Center will utilize a hybrid format for seminars in which participants may gather together at the McNeil Center building (or occasionally at an MCEAS Consortium institution host in the Philadelphia area) or attend via Zoom. All in-person attendees must comply with the University of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 policies. Masks are optional in the seminar room. For regular updates about our seminars, please join our mailing list. Please email us at mceas@sas.upenn.edu with any questions.