23 November 2010

Call for Papers: 2011 Meeting of the American Society for Legal History

Call for Papers: 2011 Meeting of the American Society for Legal History

The 2011 meeting of the American Society for Legal History will be in Atlanta, Georgia, November 10-13, 2011. The ASLH invites proposals on any facet or period of legal history, anywhere in the world. In selecting presenters, the Program Committee will give preference to those who did not present at last year’s meeting. Among the people selected to present, limited financial assistance will be available for those in need—with special priority given to graduate students and post-docs, as well as scholars traveling from abroad.

Proposals for both panels and individual papers are welcome. As concerns panels, the Program Committee encourages the submission of a variety of different types of proposals, including:

• classical 3-paper panels (with a separate commentator and chair)
• incomplete 2-paper panels (with a separate commentator and chair), which the Committee will complete with at least 1 more paper
• panels of 4 or more papers (with a separate commentator and chair)
• author-meets-reader panels
• roundtable discussions

Panel proposals should include the following:

• A 300-word description of the panel
• A c.v. for each presenter (including complete contact info)
• In the case of paper-based panels only, a 300-word abstract of each paper (as well as a draft of the paper, if possible)

Individual paper proposals should include:

• A c.v. for each presenter (including complete contact info)
• A 300-word abstract of each paper (as well as a draft of the paper, if possible)

The deadline for submitting proposals is February 28, 2011. Proposals should be sent as email attachments to Amalia Kessler, at

Those unable to send proposals as email attachments may mail hard copies to:

2011 ASLH Program Committee
c/o Amalia Kessler
Stanford Law School
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610

09 November 2010

NOTICE: Leiter Poll on the Best US Law Faculties in Legal History

Professor Thomas P Gallanis has brought an interesting online poll to our attention. The poll is being conducted by law professor Brian Leiter on the best US law faculties in the area of legal history.

Perhaps we should organise a similar poll here ...

05 November 2010

NOTICE: SOLON's Crimes and Misdemeanours becomes Law, Crime and History

I received the following message today from SOLON:

Link to UOP
Dear All

when we launched the SOLON e-journal, Crimes and Misdemeanours, back in 2007, we had wanted to indicate through the title that this was a journal which was not just about crime - but even though we have always published material (think of some of the debate pieces!) that are more general law and history, it has become plain in the last year that the title has stood in the way of people offering us work, because some have not picked up (as we had hoped) on the 'Misdemeanours' element - after all, it does have a rather mixed meaning especially for an American audience, and we are an international network, especially now.

So after a great deal of agonising (especially over the new title), we have decided that the time has come to retitle the e-journal, laying Crimes and Misdemeanours gratefully to rest, and replacing it with a more straightforward, more inclusive title. So, the SOLON e-journal now becomes:


Having made that decision, we also debated again over whether there should be a final issue of Crimes and Misdemeanours, but it seemed more sensible, especially as several of the pieces in hand for it fitted better with the new title, to bury the old title immediately, and start 2011 afresh, publishing the first issue of Law, Crime and History in January 2011, so that it will be out in good time in advance of our next big confence, the 2nd Biennial War Crimes Conference (Justice - Whose Justice) in March at our usual London venue, IALS; permitting the conference report on that to come out in the summer. The second issue will be in good time for our next big conference of next year - Crime, Violence and the Modern State III (Law, Order and Individual Rights - Theory, Intent and Practice): in September at the Universite Lyon Lumiere, again permitting that conference report to feature in the next issue....

So LAW, CRIME AND HISTORY will appear for the first time in January 2011, with articles, debate piece, conference report and also, we hope some contributions from members of the network discussing what they are working on, as one of the things that SOLON wishes to do is to promote international as well as local interdisciplinary collaboration.

The broad intent of the e-journal remains the same: it will still be free to access and download, it remains a peer reviewed journal, and we are happy to publish both short pieces (including work in progress) and long pieces, as with Rob Falconer's article in what will now be the final issue under the old title. We look to publishing interesting and interdisciplinary papers, particularly welcoming those with a historical perspective (which is not the same as a historical chronology - a historical perspective or methodology is one which looks at even current and ongoing developments from the point of questioning why its happening this way, and not another....). We do hope that you will all consider submitting work to us, and that you will continue to read and support SOLON's e-journal under this new title!


The Directors

(Kim Stevenson, Judith Rowbotham, Zoe James, Richard Williams, Lorie Charlesworth, George Mair, David Nash, Ann-Marie Kilday, Cassie Watson, Sarah Wilson, Samantha Pegg)

01 November 2010

CALL FOR PAPERS: East Meets West: A Gendered View of Legal Tradition (10-12 March 2011)

The following information was posted recently on the Legal History Blog:

East Meets West: A Gendered View of Legal Tradition

Posted by Dan Ernst

Recently posted is a call for papers on gender and European legal history, which is important both for the conference it heralds and for news of the network of scholars that is organizing it.

The conference is "East Meets West: A Gendered View of Legal Tradition." It will be the sixth conference of the research network Gender Difference in the History of European Legal Cultures. It will be held at the Central European University in March 10-12, 2011. It is sponsored by the university's departments of Gender Studies, History, Legal Studies, and Medieval Studies.

Submit abstracts before December 15, 2010, to a member of the organizing committee: Dr. Grethe Jacobsen, Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark,; Prof. em. Dr. Heide Wunder, Bad Nauheim, Germany,; Dr. Gerhard Jaritz, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, The organizers promise to send out responses by January 2011.

The "geographical frame" of the conference is "a global perspective with a basis in European legal cultures and with a special focus on Eastern Europe." Its chronological frame is from the Early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. The conference language is English.

The organizers have announced three themes: (1) "Gendered Legal Cultures: Theories and Methods"; (2) Gender, Community and Law, including property rights and economic influence, gendered work roles and guild membership, labour movements and the state; and (3) "Migration and competing legal cultures - towards a global perspective. " Presentations may take the form of papers, workshop presentations or panel discussions. The organizers stress that presenters should leave "plenty of room for discussion."

Here is the call's interesting description of the sponsoring "network" and its history:

The European network was founded at a conference entitled ‘gender difference in European law/Geschlechterdifferenz in europäischen Recht’ held at the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte, Frankfurt, Germany, in February 2000 and organized by Heide Wunder, then professor at Kassel University. The network was named “Geschlechterdifferenz in europäischen Rechtskreisen / Gender differences in European legal cultures” at first but has since changed name to the international network “Gender Differences in the History of European Legal Cultures”.

The first conference has since been followed by four conferences held around Europe. The second conference took place at the Centro per gli studi storici italo-germanici, University of Trent, Italy, in October 2002, under the title ‘Il coste delle nozze/der Preis des Heiratens‘ and organized by professors Silvana Seidel Menchi and Diego Quaglioni. At the closing of this conference the theme of the third conference was agreed to be ‘Less Favored - More Favored: Gender in European Legal History, 12th - 19th Centuries / Benachteiligt - begünstigt: Geschlecht in der Europäischen Rechtsgeschichte, 12. - 19. Jahrhundert.’ This conference took place at the Royal Library, Copenhagen, in September 2004 and was organized by dr. phil. Grethe Jacobsen, professor Inger Dübeck and (then) Ph.D. candidate Helle Vogt. The fourth conference, at the Institute of Mediterranean Studies, Rethymno, Crete, in September 2006, had as its theme ‘Gender, family and property in legal theory and practice: The European perspective from the 10th to the 20th century’ and was organized by professor Aglaia Kasdagli.

At the conclusion of this conference the themes for the fifth conference was decided to be 1) Gender constructions in non-juridical discourses and their impact on jurisprudence and jurisdiction; 2) Comparing legal cultures: Differences and similarities, concepts and methods; and 3) Gendered legal cultures in global perspective: Encounters and conflicts, transfers and interactions. The fifth conference was held in Frankfurt and organized by Dr. Karin Gottschalk, Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It had as its title ‘New Perspectives on Gender and Legal History: European Traditions and the Challenge of Global History’.

The network has its roots in the current flowering, often gendered, research in European Legal history, found in several European countries. The organizers of the conference have been especially committed to bring together young scholars and established scholars from all areas of Europe in the hope that it will inspire them to include a gendered perspective in their research and also situating their work in a broad European context. The search for common traits across chronological and geographical borders will also reveal which local features are unique and therefore of general interest. As can be seen from the places where the conferences have been held, the network has moved across Europe and away from Western Europe, which traditionally has been the focus for much legal history. The papers from the conferences has covered topics in European legal history ranging in time form the Early Middle Ages to the 20th century, and geographically from Iceland to Turkey. A few papers have dealt with Baltic and Eastern European legal history. However, much more awareness of this research is needed and the organizers expect that by placing the next conference in Budapest we will attract papers as well as scholars dealing with these topics

How did we miss this?

NOTICE: Colonies and Postcolonies of Law Conference (18 March 2011)

I just received information on the following:

History Department, Princeton University Friday, March 18th 2011

The conference addresses the centrality of law in the construction of colonial rule. We aim to examine how colonial law emerged as colonialists interacted with diverse populations in the colonies. The study of the relationship between law and colonialism has taken two broad trajectories.

On one hand, scholars have highlighted how law provided the instruments for the creation of the colonial state, allowing it to exercise a vast amount of power in restructuring the colony. Conversely, law opened up avenues of resistance for colonized populations. This conference aims to go beyond this dichotomy by focusing on law as a site of constant negotiation which produced new forms of bureaucracy and documentation practices. As colonial legal systems cast long shadows and formed the bedrock of the national legal systems today, this conference will also examine how these colonial legal regimes influence postcolonial nations. The last few years has seen a growth of interest in colonial legal history to which this conference hopes to contribute by bringing junior scholars together in conversation.

NYU Professor of History Lauren Benton will deliver a keynote address at the conference.

Sub themes

Defining Legality: Criminals, Outlaws and Rebels - New categories of legality emerged during the colonial period such that criminals and rebels became interchangeable notions. What makes a ‘rebel’ and a ‘criminal’? What counts as evidence of a crime? How were penal regimes created? How did colonial regimes contribute to the construction of the international laws of war and human rights?

Competing Legitimacies: Religious Law and Colonial Authority - The colonial state grappled with existing legal systems in the colony. Some systems were delegitimized while others were bolstered under the purview of colonial rule. By privileging certain forms of legitimacy, colonial states challenged traditional norms and institutions such as customary rights and religious laws. Why were certain legal systems granted legitimacy under the colonial rule? How did certain religious texts and figures emerge as more authoritative than others? How did the process of translation change understandings of key religious concepts? What forms of tensions were created between traditional authorities and the emerging modern legal profession in the colony?

Private Lives and Public Law - The modern colonial state crafted new boundaries between the public and private. For example, colonial projects of social reform transformed marital and kinship relations. How did the colonial legal regime come to delineate the private and the public sphere? How did colonized populations engage with this process of delineation? How did the changing legal order affect colonial subjects, in particular women, who often emerged as the sites for legal reform? Did postcolonial nations adopt colonial legal conceptions of the private and public spheres?

Constructing Borders - Colonial law demanded certainty of boundaries and jurisdiction, yet it operated within a plural legal order and had limited capacity to police frontiers. How were legal borders fixed? How did colonial populations choose between competing forums granted by neighboring jurisdictions? How did the emergence of the postcolonial nations complicate colonial mapping and jurisdictional jostling?

Law and Capital - The centrality of trade and capital to the colonial project is increasingly overshadowed by cultural and social histories. Law, in the form of land revenue, forest laws and mercantile regulations, was in fact, central to the economic project of the colonial state. Can law be used to bring economic histories in conversation with the social and cultural? What economic practices came to be legitimized with the colonial reordering of the economy? How did colonial law engage with older kinship based mercantile networks such as those of the Arabs, Chinese, Parsis and Marwaris?

Paper proposals should include a title, a 350-word abstract, institutional affiliation and contact information. Please submit proposals to by December 15th 2010.

Organizers: Nurfadzilah Yahaya and Rohit De, History Department, Princeton University

NOTICE: Rose on Legal History as an Academic Discipline

Jonathan Rose's 'Studying the Past: The Nature and Development of Legal History as an Academic Discipline' is now available on SSRN:

This paper pursues two themes. First, it argues that there is a commonality between the general interest in the past, the interest of historians, and interest of legal historians. Second, it shows that several ideas about the past commonly appear in all three contexts. In pursuing this themes, the paper begins by reviewing the initial study of past and the emergence of history and legal history in academia. It explores the various reasons that the early historians and later academic historians and legal historians studied the past and the different ways in which they used it. The paper then pursues in more detail the development of Anglo-American legal history as a scholarly tradition. It identifies three types of academic legal history: classical, liberal, and critical and discusses their natures and different uses of the past. Finally, the paper explores the substantial legal history scholarship and its relevance to scholars who are not legal historians. The paper concludes by stressing the importance of studying the legal past.