She has concluded, among other things,that many of the protagonists of the Age of Enlightenment were not only European intellectuals, but, surprisingly, the illiterate, poor or enslaved colonial subjects who recognized the inequities in their lives and decided to take on their superiors in court.
“There is something quite important in the way we conceive how change happens in society, whether it’s legal, or some other kind of change,” she said. “What often matters is how ordinary people come to understand foundational ideas, and how they use them.
“The actions of the slaves and the women and the indigenous peoples were quite significant, and, generally have not been told before, she added. “When you talk about the cornerstone concepts of freedom, democracy, natural rights, and free trade, it turns out that the people and places once thought not to have experienced this history were, in fact, instrumental in creating it.”