Monday, December 5, 2016

Kadens on the Court of Requests

Emily Kadens, Northwestern University School of Law, has posted The Admiralty Jurisdiction of the Court of Requests, which appears in Texts and Contexts in Legal History: Essays in Honor of Charles Donahue, ed. John Witte, Jr., Sara McDougall, Anna di Robilant, 349-66 (Robbins Collection 2016):    
During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the English Court of Requests played a substantial role within the sphere of the parallel and competing jurisdictions of the Westminster courts. It served as a jack-of-all-trades court, a court of last resort, and a quasi-appellate forum in which a certain subset of litigants could have their cases heard or reheard in what they apparently considered to be a more favorable venue. Admiralty disputes made up a small but not insignificant part of the Court’s docket from the beginning. This chapter details the types of admiralty disputes heard in Requests and the various ways litigants used the Court.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Book Review Roundup

Good morning--err, afternoon--legal historians. I hope you enjoy these legal history book reviews.

In the NYRB, Gordon Wood reviews two books on two different members of the Adams Family (Cousin It’s story remains untold, the two books are: James Traub’s John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit and Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams, Louisa Thomas’s take on John Quincy ADams’ wife, who “went further than Abigail had in seeking to have some part in her husband’s public life” ). Susan Dunn reviews two books about a more famous first lady--Blanche Wiesen Cook’s Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol. 3: The War Years and After, 1939–1962, and Susan Quinn’s Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady). In the same publication, Diane Ravitch’s assessment of two books about school choice covers the recent history of the movement for choice and voucher programs.

The Guardian features a list of “notable history books of 2016,” which includes Jon Wilson’s India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire and Philippe Sands’ East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity .

In the Wall St. Journal, D.G. Hart reviews “The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy” by Walter A. McDougall, which suggests that America’s civil religion—the belief in our nation’s special purpose and blessing from God—has led to folly abroad. In The World War That Never Ended, Brendan Simms reviews “The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End” by Robert Gerwarth. 

Stephen A. Schuker reviewsThe Pursuit of Power,” Richard J. Evans’s “ambitious synthesis” of Europe in “the long 19th century” (or the period from the fall of Napoleon to the outbreak of World War I.). And finally, WSJ’s Felipe Fernández-Armesto reviews Philippe Girard’s new biography of Toussaint Louverture, which is also assessed in the New Republic.
The Chicago Tribune takes on David Oshinksy’s “deeply engrossing” history of Bellvue. The New Yorker “briefly notesDouglas R. Egerton’s Thunder at the Gates, a history of three black regiments in the Civil War. The London Review of Books covers The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine by Ben Ehrenreich. Booked, a monthly series of Q&As with Dissent contributing editor Timothy Shenk features a conversation with K. Sabeel Rahman about his new book, Democracy against Domination.

In the new books network, you can hear Lena Salaymeh discuss her Beginnings of Islamic Law: Late Antique Islamicate Legal Traditions; William H. Shaw on Utilitarianism and the Ethics of War and Karen Tani discuss her first book, States of Dependency: Welfare, Rights and American Governance, 1935-1972.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Weekend Roundup

  • Chicago-Kent notes Christopher Schmidt's receipt of the ASLH's Surrency Prize in this press release
  • Belatedly, we note that Newton Minow was one of the recent recipients of  the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In 1961, John F. Kennedy chose Minow, age 34, to chair the Federal Communications Commission as one of a series of meritocratic appointments that included Philip Elman to the Federal Trade Commission and Manuel F. Cohen to the Securities and Exchange Commission.  
  • The Beijinger notes the opening earlier this year of the China Court Museum.  Exhibits treat famous legal cases from around the world, including the OJ Simpson trial. 
Cuthbert W. Pound (wiki)
  • Recently, the American Historical Association’s listserv circulated a query from a person seeking a home for “documents from my husband's family that include a former New York Appellate Court Judge (Cuthbert Pound), journals covering 20+ years during the mid-1800's to 1900, and numerous letters."  We suggested she contact the Historical Society of the New York Courts and the Charles B. Sears Law Library of the University at Buffalo School of Law.
  • The December issue of the newsletter of the Historical Society of the DC Circuit, available soon here, reports that the Society “is sponsoring the writing of a biography of Chief Judge William B. Bryant by award-winning author Tonya Bolden,” written for young adults. And on February 14, 2017, it will sponsor “The Reporter’s Privilege and National Security: The Case of In Re: Grand Jury Subpoena, Judith Miller.”  "The program will explore the common-law basis for a reporter’s privilege and how best to strike the balance between the public’s right to know and the Government’s need to secure information in the national interest." Two members of the original panel, David S. Tatel and David B. Sentelle, will preside over a re-enactment of the arguments in Miller's case.
  • Matthew Dallek, George Washington University, will discuss Defenseless under the Night, his history of the WW2-era Office of Civilian Defense, at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum at 7:00 PM on Pearl Harbor Day.  More.
  • ICYMI: The University of Chicago's Geoffrey Stone likens the Republican Senators' refusal to give Judge Merrick Garland a hearing to FDR's Court-Packing Plan.  That was the last time, he writes, that "politicians tried in so blatant a manner to manipulate the makeup of the Supreme Court in violation of long-standing norms."  Also, Seth Barrett Tillman notes that the Congressional Research Service has revised its guidance on the Foreign Emoluments Clause.  And, over at the Faculty Lounge: North Carolina Law's Eric Muller on Locking Away Korematsu's Loaded Weapon, and Al Brophy on the report of Yale University’s Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming, chaired by YLS professor John Witt.
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History Bloggers.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Stanford-Penn 10th International Junior Faculty Forum

[The Stanford Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School announce their Tenth International Junior Faculty Forum with the following call for papers.]

Sponsored by Stanford Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the International Junior Faculty Forum (IJFF) was established to stimulate the exchange of ideas and research among younger legal scholars from around the world. We live today in a global community– in particular, a global legal community. The IJFF is designed to foster transnational legal scholarship that surmounts barriers of time, space, legal traditions and cultures, and to create an engaged global community of scholars. The Tenth IJFF will be held at Stanford Law School in October 2017 (the exact date has not yet been fixed).

In order to be considered for the 2017 International Junior Faculty Forum, authors must meet the
following criteria:
Citizen of a country other than the United States
Current academic institution is outside of the United States
Not currently a student in the United States
Have held a faculty position or the equivalent, including positions comparable to junior faculty positions in research institutions, for less than seven years as of 2017; and
Last degree earned less than ten years before 2017

Papers may be on any legally relevant subject and can make use of any relevant approach: they can be quantitative or qualitative, sociological, anthropological, historical, or economic. The host institutions are committed to intellectual, methodological, and regional diversity, and welcome papers from junior scholars from all parts of the world. Please note, however, that already published papers are not eligible for consideration. We particularly welcome work that is interdisciplinary.

Those who would like to participate in the IJFF must first submit an abstract of the proposed paper. Abstracts should be no more than two (2) pages long and must be in English. The abstract should provide a roadmap of your paper—it should tell us what you plan to do, lay out the major argument of the paper, say something about the methodology, and indicate the paper’s contribution to scholarship. The due date for abstracts is Monday, January 16, 2017, although earlier submissions are welcome. Please submit the abstract electronically to both ijff@law.stanford.edu and ijff@law.upenn.edu with the subject line, International Junior Faculty Forum. The abstract should contain the author’s name, home institution, and the title of the proposed paper. Please also send a current CV.

After the abstracts have been reviewed, we will invite, no later than mid-February, a number of
junior scholars to submit full papers of no more than 15,000 words, electronically, in English, by
mid-May 2017. Please include a word count for final papers. There is no fixed number of papers to be invited, but in the past years up to 50 invitations have been issued from among a much larger number of abstracts.

An international committee of legal scholars will review the papers and select approximately ten papers for full presentation at the conference, where two senior scholars will comment on each paper.

After the remarks of the commentators, all of the participants, junior and senior alike, will have a
chance to join in the discussion. One of the most valuable—and enjoyable—aspects of the Forum, in the opinion of many participants, has been the chance to meet junior and senior scholars, and to talk about your work and theirs.

Stanford and Penn will cover expenses of travel, including airfare, lodging, and food, for each
participant. Questions should be directed to ijff@law.stanford.edu.

Professor Lawrence M. Friedman, Stanford Law School
Professor Eric A. Feldman, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Charles Donahue Honored

Charles Donahue (HLS)
We missed the Harvard Law School’s conference in honor of the Charles Donahue, the Paul A. Freund Professor of Law, when it was held back in October, but Harvard Law Today has just posted a nice report.  “Scholars came from around the country and around the world and spoke on topics related to medieval and early modern history. The day culminated with the presentation to Donahue of a festschrift, “Texts and Contexts in Legal History: Essays in Honor of Charles Donahue” (The Robbins Collection, University of California at Berkeley).”  John Witte, Jr., an editor of the volume, said, “[W]e owe our greatest thanks to Professor Donahue for his brilliant scholarship, teaching, and mentorship, for his generous humanity, fidelity, and integrity, and for the sterling example he offers to all of us of a gentleman’s scholarly life lived well. May it long continue!”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Mendenhall on Holmes

Out this month from Bucknell University Press: Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon: Aesthetic Dissent and the Common Law, by Allen Mendenhall (Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law). A description from the Press:
This book argues that Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., helps us see the law through an Emersonian lens by the way in which he wrote his judicial dissents. Holmes’s literary style mimics and enacts two characteristics of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thought: “superfluity” and the “poetics of transition,” concepts ascribed to Emerson and developed by literary critic Richard Poirier. Using this aesthetic style borrowed from Emerson and carried out by later pragmatists, Holmes not only made it more likely that his dissents would remain alive for future judges or justices (because how they were written was itself memorable, whatever the value of their content), but also shaped our understanding of dissents and, in this, our understanding of law. By opening constitutional precedent to potential change, Holmes’s dissents made room for future thought, moving our understanding of legal concepts in a more pragmatic direction and away from formalistic understandings of law. Included in this new understanding is the idea that the “canon” of judicial cases involves oppositional positions that must be sustained if the law is to serve pragmatic purposes. This process of precedent-making in a common-law system resembles the construction of the literary canon as it is conceived by Harold Bloom and Richard Posner.
More information is available here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Berger-Howe Fellowship

[We have the following announcement.] Harvard Law School invites applications for the Berger-Howe Fellowship for the academic year 2017-2018. Eligible applicants include those who have a first law degree, who have completed the required coursework for a doctorate, or who have recently been awarded a doctoral degree. A J.D. is preferred, but not required. We will also consider applicants who are beginning a teaching career in either law or history. The purpose of the fellowship is to enable the fellow to complete a major piece of writing in the field of legal history, broadly defined. There are no limitations as to geographical area or time period.

Fellows are expected to spend the majority of their time on their own research. They also help coordinate the Harvard Law School Legal History Colloquium, which meets four or five times each semester. Fellows are invited to present their own work at the colloquium. Fellows will be required to be in residence at the law school during the academic year (September through May).

Applicants for the fellowship for 2017-2018 should submit their applications and supporting materials electronically to Professor Bruce H. Mann (mann@law.harvard.edu).

Applications should outline briefly the fellow’s proposed project (no more than five typewritten pages) and include a writing sample and a curriculum vitae that gives the applicant’s educational background, publications, works in progress, and other relevant experience, accompanied by official transcripts of all academic work done in college and at the graduate level. The applicant should arrange for two academic references to be submitted electronically. The transcripts may be sent by regular mail to Professor Mann at Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.

The deadline for applications is February 15, 2017, and announcement of the award will be made by March 15, 2017. The fellow selected will be awarded a stipend of $38,000.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Law and Democracy: A Legal Studies Graduate Student Conference at Brown

The Second Annual Legal Studies Graduate Student Conference, "Law and Democracy," will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, 2017 at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.  Deadline for submission: January 16th, 2017.  Acceptance notification: Early February

Law and democracy are typically seen as interdependent: laws protect the fundamental rights that make democracy possible, while democracy ensures the legitimacy of law-making bodies. However, the two principles conflict just as often as they complement one another. Where democracy calls for radical change at times, the law looks to precedent and tradition. Where democracy privileges majority opinion, constitutional law often prioritizes minority rights. Where democracy depends on vocal dissent, and even civil disobedience, courts and law enforcement officials typically aim to contain civic unrest. Law and democracy are central pillars of the modern nation-state, but the conflicts between them–at polling stations or protests, in courts or legislative chambers–betray fundamental tensions in political and social life.

The Brown Legal Studies initiative invites paper submissions on the subject of “Law and Democracy” for its second annual graduate student conference. At a moment when important political and legal institutions in the United States are challenged from within and without, our conference will consider the interaction of law and democracy, both in our own time and in broader historical or comparatist contexts.

We hope to foster interdisciplinary conversation and so encourage papers from any discipline, including (but not limited to): Jurisprudence, History, Ethnic Studies, Philosophy, Anthropology, Literature, Classics, Political Science, and Sociology. We welcome abstracts addressing any geographical area or historical period. Possible topics of discussion may include consent, political legitimacy; human rights, civil liberties; protest, civil disobedience; white supremacy, racisms; class, nepotism; voting, disenfranchisement; war, imperialism, neo-imperialism; expertise, bureaucracy, technocracy; mediating institutions such as legislatures, town halls, electoral college, party system; environment, natural resources, stewardship; corporations, lobbying, anonymity; litigation, judicial discretion; corruption, ethics, accountability; public reason, debate, truth, epistocracy; education, civic knowledge, literacy; consumerism, boycotts, divestment; religion, pluralism.

Please submit a 250-500 word abstract, along with a copy of your C.V, by Monday January 16th, 2017.  Submissions should be sent to brownlegalstudies@gmail.com . If you have questions, please contact Jonathan Lande ( jonathan_lande@brown.edu ), Katie Fitzpatrick (kathleen_fitzpatrick@brown.edu ), or Sara Ludin ( saraludin@berkeley.edu ).

More information is also available [here].

Hickford on Interpreting the Treaty of Waitangi

Mark Hickford, Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, has posted Interpreting the Treaty: Questions of Native Title, Territorial Government and Searching for Constitutional Histories, in (the provisionally titled) After the Treaty, ed. Richard Hill and B. Patterson:
This essay deals with the various perspectives and interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi over time. Drawn from a multi-author collection of essays in memory of the scholarship of the historian Ian Wards, the author argues that, whilst we must be mindful of not producing ‘treaty-centric’ histories, it is important not to reduce the historical interpretative complexities of the Treaty. Hickford continues by stating that one must be cautious when assuming the framers’ original intent deserves priority attention in interpretation. Instead we must look more deeply into the texts to embrace the nuances, complexities and frailties within them, including the ways in which they instantiated a number of interpretative communities. It is concluded that whilst the texts lived many lives of interpretation, argument and negotiation, their significance lies in their strength as texts, allowing them to become a lasting focus for political relations, and the development of constitutional histories (even as these material realities of indigenous and colonial co-existence were concealed or masked).

Monday, November 28, 2016

New ASLH Book Prize

[We have the following announcement.]
stein
Peter Gonville Stein (1926-2016)
The American Society for Legal History announces the Peter Gonville Stein Book Award, to be presented annually for the best book in legal history written in English. This award is designed to recognize and encourage the further growth of fine work in legal history that focuses on all non-US regions, as well as global and international history. To be eligible, a book must sit outside of the field of US legal history and be published during the previous two calendar years. Announced at the annual meeting of the ASLH, this honor includes a citation on the contributions of the work to the broader field of legal history. A book may only be considered for the Stein Award, the Reid Award, or the Cromwell Book Prize. It may not be nominated for more than one of these three prizes.
The Stein Award is named in memory of Peter Gonville Stein, BA, LLB (Cantab); PhD (Aberdeen); QC; FBA; Honorary Fellow, ASLH, and eminent scholar of Roman law at the University of Cambridge, and made possible by a generous contribution from an anonymous donor.
For the 2017 prize, the Stein Award Committee will accept nominations of any book that bears a copyright date of 2015 or 2016 as it appears on the printed version of the book.
Nominations for the Stein Award should be submitted by March 15, 2017. Please send an e-mail to steinaward@aslh.net and include: (1) a curriculum vitae of the author; and (2) the name, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number of the contact person at the press who will provide the committee with two copies of the book. This person will be contacted shortly after the deadline. (If a title is short-listed, six further copies will be requested from the publisher.)
Please contact the committee chair, Mitra Sharafi, with any questions:mitra.sharafi@wisc.edu.

The announcement on the ASLH website is available here

Call for Applications: Baldy Fellowships in Interdisciplinary Legal Studies

We have the following call for applications:
Baldy Fellowships in Interdisciplinary Legal Studies 2017

The Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy at the State University of New York at Buffalo plans to award several fellowships for 2017-18 to scholars pursuing important topics in law, legal institutions, and social policy. Applications are invited from junior and senior scholars from law, the humanities, and the social sciences.

Fellows are expected to participate regularly in Baldy Center events, but otherwise have no obligations beyond vigorously pursuing their research. Fellows receive standard university research privileges (access to university libraries, high-speed Internet, office space, computer equipment, phone, website space, working paper series, etc.) and are encouraged to develop collaborative research projects with SUNY Buffalo faculty members where appropriate. Those who wish to teach a course to aid their research or gain teaching experience can be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

Post-Doctoral Fellowships are available to individuals who have completed the PhD or JD but have not yet begun a tenure track appointment. Post-Doctoral Fellows will receive a stipend of $40,000 and may apply for up to $2000 in professional travel support. Post-doctoral Fellowships will ordinarily be for a period of two years.

Mid-Career and Senior Fellowships are available to established scholars who wish to work at the Center, typically during a sabbatical or research leave. Awardees will receive a living expense allowance of $1,500 per month during the period of their residence.

Application materials include:
(1) a description of the planned research (question, conceptual framework, method, possible findings, importance to the field),
(2) a complete academic and professional resume,
(3) an academic writing sample,
(4) the names and contact information of three academic references (no letters yet), and
(5) if a mid-career or senior applicant, the time period during which the applicant would work at the Center. Completed applications are due no later than January 17, 2017. (Apply by clicking the button below). For further information, see our answers to frequently asked questions. Additional questions about the Baldy Fellows Program should be addressed to Gloria Paveljack, gep@buffalo.edu or (716) 645-2102. 
Primary criteria for selection include intellectual strength of the proposal, demonstrated academic achievement, and promise of future success. Additional considerations include the overall mix of topics, disciplines, and backgrounds of the selected group of fellows.
For information on current and past Baldy Fellows, see the Baldy Center website.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Book Review Roundup


There are a number of engaging and timely reviews out this week.

In The Atlantic is a review essay featuring Jane Kamensky's A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley and Alan Taylor's American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804.

The is a host of relevant reviews in this week's New York Times.  David Oshinsky's Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital receives a review.  The paper also carries a review of Glen Jeansonne's  Herbert Hoover: A Life.  Peter Fritzsche's An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler is also reviewed.  Finally, a review essay considers The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution edited by Bryan Shih and Yohuru Williams and Black Power 50 edited by Sylviane A. Diouf and Komozi Woodard.


David Oshinsky reviews Steve Hahn's A Nation Without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910 in The Washington Post.

The New York Review of Books has a review essay that engages The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America  by Andrés Reséndez and An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873 by Benjamin Madley.

The Los Angeles Times carries a review of Heather Hendershot's Open to Debate: How William F. Buckley Put Liberal America on the Firing Line.

At H-Net is a review of Meg Jacob's Panic at the Pump: The Energy Crisis and the Transformation of American Politics in the 1970s.  Also reviewed at H-Net is Andrew Arnold's Fueling the Gilded Age: Railroads, Miners, and Disorder in Pennsylvania Coal Country.

In Common-Place is a review of Jen Manion's Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America.

At the New Books Network James Alexander Dun is interviewed about his Dangerous Neighbors: Making the Haitian Revolution in Early America.  Also at the site Coll Thrush speaks about his Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire. Leon Wildes is interviewed about John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History.  Finally, Vicki Lens is interviewed about her  Poor Justice: How the Poor Fare in the Courts.

Indelible Ink: The Trials of John Peter Zenger and the Birth of America’s Free Press  by Richard Kluger is reviewed in the Washington Independent Review of Books.

In the Los Angeles Review is a timely review of Nicholas O'Shaughnessy's Selling Hitler: Propaganda and the Nazi Brand.  Also reviewed at the site is Douglas Smith's Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs.

The Birth of the Blog

On November 27, 2006, at a kitchen table in Sharon, Massachusetts, the Legal History Blog was born. The first post was a simple hello, announcing the blog to come.
The next posts appeared with the sort of fare LHB readers have come to expect: posts about new SSRN papers, a call for papers, news about a new book and an honor bestowed on legal historian Morty Horwitz. The very first person to comment on the blog was legal historian Al Brophy, who is also a blogger. Readership began with a handful of visitors, and then built steadily as more of you came along.

In honor of LHB’s 10th anniversary, I thought I would tell you the story of LHB’s early days when I created the blog at my kitchen table. It is a story about how social media can enhance a field, and it is also a personal story about the way the blog mattered to my life as a scholar.

I began the Legal History Blog on my own after a couple of legal historians I’d asked to join me were too busy. Going it alone was a little terrifying, but had some advantages. I could give the blog the sort of tone and content that I thought it needed, and I hoped this would help LHB establish a readership. One important model for the blog was Lawrence Solum’s Legal Theory Blog devoted solely to posts about scholarship. Another model was History News Network and similar sites with news of the field and occasional opinion pieces. This sort of blogging was sustainable because it didn’t rely on a steady stream of original essays.

LHB was warmly welcomed into the law and history blogospheres. But sometimes fellow legal historians seemed surprised that I would devote time to blogging and wondered why on earth I did it. I started the blog because I felt that the field of legal history needed a more dynamic online presence. Scholars in other fields often had an outdated and narrow understanding of what legal historians did. I wanted to show that we weren’t antiquarians of formal law, and to illustrate the ways legal historians draw upon all the rich methodologies employed by others. Legal historians have long focused on social and intellectual history. I wanted to create a space that also emphasized transnational and comparative legal history and the sort of work that now falls within the field of the United States and the World. I hoped the blog would help scholars connect with each other and would bring new readers for the works posted about.

Although I created the blog because I thought legal history needed it, LHB also turned out to be very good for me. I was on leave in the fall of 2006 with a fellowship from the American Council on Learned Societies to complete my book on Thurgood Marshall’s work in Africa. I found a creative way to “top off” that fellowship: my daughter and I moved in with my then-boyfriend (hence the blog’s Sharon, MA birthplace). We all long for those stretches of time for writing that come only with a leave, and the isolation of Sharon – way out in the Boston suburbs – helped me protect my writing time. But writing is not always exhilarating. Sometimes I would get to the end of the day with little more than a paragraph – and then I would delete it. On days when the writing made me feel worthless, the blog was something of a savior. There were visitors! People from around the country and the world were reading my posts. Social media can be a distraction, but especially in the blog’s first year, LHB was sustenance. It made me feel connected to a broader world of readers. That audience kept me going.

Continued below the fold.

Happy Birthday to Us!

Ten years ago today, Mary Dudziak sat down at a kitchen table and typed the first entry on Legal History Blog: “ Welcome!  This is a new blog on news and scholarship in legal history. Stay tuned for more... “ 9,164 posts and 4.27 million page views later, we’re still here!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

CFP: From Cosmopolitans to Cosmopolitanisms

[We have the following announcement.]

From Cosmopolitans to Cosmopolitanisms. Proposals for panels due by 1 February 2017.  Proposals for papers due by 1 March 2017

Across the long eighteenth century virtually every form of visual and textual representation and almost every area of intellectual enquiry was transformed by a changing sense of the world and its inhabitants. That change came in response to the practical experience of intercultural communication and exchange arising from both increased commerce and increasingly global conflict. Narratives of travel and contact, images depicting cultural difference both small and large, fictions of worlds new, old and exotic flooded the cultural marketplace. Theorists of statecraft and governance both then and now recognize this period as a crucial moment where conceptions of nationhood, empire, citizenship, diplomacy and globality were first broached. Kant’s desire for a cosmopolitical future was partly spurred by a century of almost continual war.

For their joint annual meeting, the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies invite panel and paper submissions that address this topic in all of its complexity. The meeting will be held at the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, Ontario, 18-22 October 2017 and is co-hosted by colleagues from the University of Toronto and local institutions including Humber College, Ryerson University and York University.

We invite proposals that investigate the cosmopolitan in a range of fields, including but not limited to literature, art and architecture, book history, education, geography, history, history of science, indigenous studies, law, linguistics, music, philosophy and political science. Among the many issues raised under this topic the organizing committee is interested in panels and proposals that address the definition of cosmopolitanism itself both in the eighteenth century and within our current critical moment, the practice of intercultural exchange that leads to the assertion or cancellation of cosmopolitan identity, the circulation of goods and peoples that impinge on emergent and disappearing understandings of the “world” and its citizens, the theorization of the desire for identities beyond that of nation, tribe or clan, the resistances to such “worlding” desires, and the specific representation of cultural contact, cultural difference and exchange. This may well be a conference populated by travellers, pirates, painters, diplomats, merchants, jurists, castaways and philosophers, some no doubt enthusiastic to the promises of cosmopolitanism, some attuned to its cost, and some skeptical about its claims.

In keeping with CSECS and NEASECS tradition, panels and papers devoted to elements of the long eighteenth century not directly related to the conference theme are also welcome. Papers in either French or English are welcome. Individual proposals should include a 150-word abstract of the paper and its title, and a 150-word biographical statement including your name, academic status, institutional affiliation, membership (CSECS/NEASECS), and e-mail address. Panel proposals should include the above, as well as a brief description of the panel itself.

Please send panel proposals by 1 February 2017; paper proposals by 1 March 2017 to email CSECS2017@utoronto.ca.

en français after the jump

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ponsa on Munshi, “'You Will See My Family Became So American': Toward a Minor Comparativism"

More from JOTWELL's legal history section. Christina Duffy Ponsa (Columbia University) has posted an admiring review of Sherally Munshi's article “'You Will See My Family Became So American': Toward a Minor Comparativism," which appeared in Volume 63 of the American Journal of Comparative Law (2015). Here's the first paragraph of Ponsa's review:
Sherally Munshi has written a thoughtful and moving article about the relationship among race, citizenship, immigration, and the visual imagery of assimilation and difference. In “You Will See My Family Became So American,” she tells the story of Dinshah Ghadiali, a Parsi Zoroastrian born and raised in India who immigrated to the United States in 1911, became a U.S. citizen in 1917, and prevailed over the federal government’s effort to strip him of that citizenship in 1932. Along with Ghadiali himself—proud American, soldier, erstwhile inventor, political activist, and all in all memorable character with a larger-than-life personality—the protagonists in the story are a striking series of photographs Ghadiali submitted into evidence in his denaturalization trial. Munshi’s bold and ranging exploration of a variety of themes in the legal history of race, citizenship, and immigration culminates in a close reading of these photographs, in which she shows how the images reveal the tension between the “effortful displays of Americanization… and unwitting disclosures of racial identity.” (P. 693.)
Read on here.

LaChance, "Executing Freedom: The Cultural Life of Capital Punishment in the United States"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Executing Freedom: The Cultural Life of Capital Punishment in the United States (Nov. 2016), by Daniel LaChance (Emory University). A description from the Press:
In the mid-1990s, as public trust in big government was near an all-time low, 80% of Americans told Gallup that they supported the death penalty. Why did people who didn’t trust government to regulate the economy or provide daily services nonetheless believe that it should have the power to put its citizens to death?

That question is at the heart of Executing Freedom, a powerful, wide-ranging examination of the place of the death penalty in American culture and how it has changed over the years. Drawing on an array of sources, including congressional hearings and campaign speeches, true crime classics like In Cold Blood, and films like Dead Man Walking, Daniel LaChance shows how attitudes toward the death penalty have reflected broader shifts in Americans’ thinking about the relationship between the individual and the state. Emerging from the height of 1970s disillusion, the simplicity and moral power of the death penalty became a potent symbol for many Americans of what government could do—and LaChance argues, fascinatingly, that it’s the very failure of capital punishment to live up to that mythology that could prove its eventual undoing in the United States.
A few blurbs:
Executing Freedom is a truly extraordinary book. It offers a remarkable reading of the resonance of America’s death penalty and some of the deepest strains in our culture, in particular beliefs about negative freedom. In addition, LaChance offers important lessons for abolitionists, warning that the problems in the death penalty system are not simply its assault on human dignity or its arbitrary and flawed administration, but rather its failure to generate the meaning that modern citizens crave. From start to finish, this book provides a sophisticated and persuasive analysis of the cultural life of capital punishment.” -- Austin Sarat
“LaChance brilliantly reframes the recent history of the death penalty in the United States around the competing discourses of freedom, governance, and agency. His analysis is complex and compelling. Interpreting  fictional and non-fictional sources of crime and punishment ranging from In Cold Blood to the TV series Dexter, he argues that the death penalty reemerged in the 1970s as an assertion of the negative freedoms ‘from’ big, centralized, welfare oriented, technocratic government.  His conclusion regarding the future of the death penalty is startling: the death penalty will become a casualty of its own success. Not only has it failed in its promise of retributive justice and moral certainty, it has become the apotheosis of big government programs it was supposed to supplant. This book will change the way scholars think about the death penalty and the way activists work to abolish it.” -- Patrick Ewick
More information is available here.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Law and Colonial Violence: An International Workshop

[We have the following announcement of Law and Colonial Violence: An International Workshop at to be held at Queen Mary University of London and sponsored by QMUL, Cambridge University, and the European University Institute, to be held on 14 February 2017.  The deadline for abstracts is 17 December 2016.]

Now more than ever, the relationship between colonial violence and law stands at the centre of public and scholarly attention. While some have sought to position law as a ‘limiting factor’ in restraining the violence of imperial rule, there is plenty of empirical evidence illustrating the degree to which jurists and the law itself have been deeply implicated in the creation and maintenance of empire, including its utility of violence. Growing academic interest in the connections between these two perspectives has been made evident by important new fields of inquiry. These include legal, social scientific, and historiographical debates on colonial violence in the ‘long’ nineteenth century, as well as more recent discussions regarding international criminal law since the end of the Cold War, turns to ‘history', ‘critical theory’, the ‘global’, or ‘postcolonial’ in legal and intellectual history, the laws of war in the post-9/11 epoch, and arguments regarding the ‘breakthroughs’ of human rights in the 1970s and 1990s - or, perhaps, (much) earlier.

In light of recent attempts to engage in interdisciplinary study of new discourses and methodological approaches, this international workshop co-organized by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), the European University Institute (EUI), and the University of Cambridge seeks to examine the genealogy of this complex and frequently contested intersection of law in its broadest sense, imperial violence, and the growing force of internationalism from a truly global perspective by calling for papers that address these questions and themes.

This workshop will seek to bring together both graduate students and more advanced scholars working with a variety of historical, legal, intellectual, and theoretical methods to explore the relationship between law and imperial violence from roughly the 1800s up to the 1970s, when decolonization was reaching its end phase and the Additional Protocols were being signed. We particularly invite scholars working on those laws regulating policing and violence in an imperial context, such as emergency penal, or martial laws, the laws of war, and human rights.
Potential topics range from, but are not limited to, the implementation of colonial emergency laws at a local, regional or national level; law as a justifier or facilitator of violence; law as an instrument for limiting or ending colonial violence; the laws of war and human rights in colonial and postcolonial contexts; a conceptual or theoretical history of law, civilization, race, and colonial violence; indigenous resistance and the law; historical comparisons across time, geographical locations (metropole/periphery), and empires; the influence of empire on the drafting of new laws or declarations regulating warfare and imperial policing; and the problem of clashing or overlapping legal regimes in imperial contexts (e.g. emergency laws vs. human rights).

The workshop, which is organized by Jacob Ramsay Smith (QMUL), Joseph McQuade (Cambridge), and Boyd van Dijk (EUI/King's College), aims at bringing together scholars into a one-day intensive workshop at QMUL. It will feature a number of panels and a keynote lecture by Professor Dirk Moses, of the University of Sydney. Abstracts (350 words long) should be submitted to lawcolonialviolenceworkshop@gmail.com and are due December 17, 2016.

Asen on Chinese Forensic Science

Out since August with Cambridge University Press is Death in Beijing: Murder and Forensic Science in Republican China by Daniel Asen, Rutgers Newark

From the publisher:

Death in BeijingIn this innovative and engaging history of homicide investigation in Republican Beijing, Daniel Asen explores the transformation of ideas about death in China in the first half of the twentieth century. In this period, those who died violently or under suspicious circumstances constituted a particularly important population of the dead, subject to new claims by police, legal and medical professionals, and a newspaper industry intent on covering urban fatality in sensational detail. Asen examines the process through which imperial China's old tradition of forensic science came to serve the needs of a changing state and society under these dramatically new circumstances. This is a story of the unexpected outcomes and contingencies of modernity, presenting new perspectives on China's transition from empire to modern nation state, competing visions of science and expertise, and the ways in which the meanings of death and dead bodies changed amid China's modern transformation.

Belt on Blumenthal, "Law and the Modern Mind"

Happy thanksgiving! We are grateful to JOTWELL's legal history section, for continually flagging great new work in our field. Here's a recent installment that we missed: Rabia Belt (Stanford University) has written an admiring review of Susanna Blumenthal's Law and the Modern Mind (Harvard University Press, 2016). Here's the first paragraph:
Every law student worth her salt has read, or at least heard of, Oliver Wendell Holmes and The Common Law.1 His formulation of the reasonable man (or, as we call it now, reasonable person) standard structures the foundation of the law school curriculum. Susanna Blumenthal’s Law and the Modern Mind sheds light on a curious figure lurking behind that reasonable man – the “default legal person,” a phrase of Blumenthal’s creation. The default legal person standard, the determination whether people were mentally competent and thus legally responsible, “stood at the borderline of legal capacity, identifying those who were properly exempted from the rules of law that were applicable to everyone else.” (P. 12.) This quirky character “effectively delimited the universe of capable individuals who could be made subject to the prescriptive authority of the reasonable man…. [He] was supposed to remain at the margins of the common law, standing for the presumption of sanity that, jurists expected, would be warranted in most cases.” (Id.) On the one side lay rationality and legal responsibility; on the other, madness and legal exoneration. It was up to jurists, with the aid of mental health doctors, to discern the difference between the two, and therein lies the project of Blumenthal’s book.
Read on here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Call for Applications: Malkiel Scholars Award - Due Dec. 15

We're pleased to announce that the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has expanded its Nancy Weiss Malkiel scholars program and is now accepting applications:

About the fellowship award:
The Nancy Weiss Malkiel Scholars Award is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Malkiel Scholars Award offers a $17,500 stipend—$10,000 to be used for summer research support and $7,500 for research assistance during the academic year. The award is structured to free the time of junior faculty who have passed their midpoint tenure review—including those from underrepresented groups and others committed to eradicating disparities in their fields—so that they can both engage in and build support for systems, networks, and affinity groups that make their fields and campuses more inclusive.
Along with the research portfolio, selectors will examine evidence of deep campus service and mentoring commitments early in each candidate’s career, with a focus on creating inclusive opportunities for underrepresented scholars at all levels. At the same time, the Malkiel Scholars Program will work to strengthen the community for these emerging leaders within their disciplines by building a network around them and encouraging careers that focus on diversity, inclusion, and engagement.
Eligibility and selection:
Applicants eligible for the Malkiel Scholars Award will be assistant professors in tenure-track appointments who are pursuing tenure. They will have successfully passed the standard third-year review or their institution’s equivalent no later than January 29, 2017 and will be in the fourth or fifth year of the tenure-track appointment. Applicants who would be considered for tenure during the award year will be ineligible.
. . .
Malkiel Scholars may be working in any field of the humanities or social sciences. Preference will be given to those whose work echoes and elaborates themes addressed in Dr. Malkiel’s scholarship and career—that is, topics related to 20th- and 21st-century American history, politics, culture, and society, with emphases including but not limited to African American issues, women’s issues, and/or higher education. Examples might include changing perspectives on civil rights; legal, social, and organizational responses to social change (such as affirmative action or community organizing); women in leadership; single-gender higher education; the history of coeducation in higher education; and the evolution of social institutions and movements from 1900 to the present.
The Malkiel Scholars Award will recognize junior faculty candidates who not only balance research, teaching, and service but in fact give great weight to the creation of an inclusive campus community for underrepresented students and scholars. The selectors will focus on and privilege service and leadership activities that address and ameliorate underrepresentation on campus, and give preference to candidates who embody a high standard of excellence.
. . . 
The deadline for applications is December 15. More information is available here.

Professionalism and Expertise Today: The Princeton Conference

We have word of the conference Professionalism and Expertise Today, to be held on Friday, December 2, 2016, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m, in the Friend Center Convocation Room, Princeton University.  We understand that it is open to the public, members of which should RSVP here for lunch and a name tag by Friday, November 25, 2016.  It is organized by the Center for the Study of Social Organization and co-sponsored by the Program in Law and Public Affairs.

From the conference's website:
Changes in technology and culture, politics, and the economy have drastically altered the environment of work and thrown old assumptions about professionalization into doubt. Long expected to be pillars of a “knowledge” or “information” society, the professions have run into a series of developments weakening their position: losses of autonomy, shrinking markets for their services, the substitution of algorithms for individual professional expertise, popular distrust, eroding support for exclusive professional jurisdictions. Join leading scholars from sociology, economics, and law for a discussion of these and other aspects of the new world of professionalism and expertise.
Paul Starr, Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton and an organizer of the conference observes that many of the forces to be explored are issues relevant to law and the legal profession.  he notes particularly:
In a variety of areas, organizations are substituting algorithms for individual professional judgment. But what happens to legal accountability in the process?

Licensing has spread in recent decades and covers an increasing proportion of jobs, while unionization has declined: What are the implications for economic inequality of these changing patterns of “occupational closure”?

Economic and technological change has reshaped the demand for professional skills, and several professions such as journalism and law are feeling the impact. What are the long-term implications?
Here is the schedule:

8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m. - Continental breakfast

9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - Panel 1:  Occupational Closure and Economic Inequality

Panelists: 
Morris Kleiner, University of Minnesota
Kim Weeden, Cornell University
Chair:  Paul Starr, Princeton University
This session is co-sponsored by Princeton University's Industrial Relations Section.

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - Break

10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. - Panel 2:  From Expertise to Algorithms? Professional versus algorithmic accountability

Panelists: 
Marion Fourcade, University of California, Berkeley
Frank Pasquale, University of Maryland Law School
Chair:  Joel Reidenberg, Fordham University School of Law

12:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. -  Lunch and discussion

Discussion begins at 12:30 p.m. - Professional Resistance to Political Authority

Chair: Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton University

1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. - Panel 3:  Sociology of Expertise

Panelists:
Ruthanne Huising, EMLyon Business School  
Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, New York University
Lauren Senesac, Princeton University
Chair:  Karin Knorr Cetina, University of Chicago

3 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. - Break

3:15 p.m. - 5 p.m. - Professionalism Today

Panelists:
Michael Schudson, Columbia University
Katherine Kellogg, MIT
Paul Starr, Princeton University
Chair:  Paul DiMaggio, New York University

Hussin on Politics of Islamic Law

Out with the University of Chicago Press is The Politics of Islamic Law: Local Elites, Colonial Authority, and the Making of the Muslim State by Iza Hussin, University of Cambridge. From the publisher:
In The Politics of Islamic Law, Iza Hussin compares India, Malaya, and Egypt during the British colonial period in order to trace the making and transformation of the contemporary category of "Islamic law." She demonstrates that not only is Islamic law not the shari’ah, its present institutional forms, substantive content, symbolic vocabulary, and relationship to state and society—in short, its politics—are built upon foundations laid during the colonial encounter. 
Drawing on extensive archival work in English, Arabic, and Malay—from court records to colonial and local papers to private letters and visual material—Hussin offers a view of politics in the colonial period as an iterative series of negotiations between local and colonial powers in multiple locations. She shows how this resulted in a paradox, centralizing Islamic law at the same time that it limited its reach to family and ritual matters, and produced a transformation in the Muslim state, providing the frame within which Islam is articulated today, setting the agenda for ongoing legislation and policy, and defining the limits of change. Combining a genealogy of law with a political analysis of its institutional dynamics, this book offers an up-close look at the ways in which global transformations are realized at the local level. 

Praise for the book:

The Politics of Islamic Law takes a very fresh approach on understanding the roots of modern Islamic laws. It is a very well-researched and well-argued work. This book is a must-read for the students and experts of Islamic law. Since Hussin has traced the roots of Islamic laws in the colonial state and polices instead of Islamic theology and history, it may raise controversies. However, it is not possible to ignore this scholarly work.” –Washington Book Review

 “This book is the work of a gifted scholar with the capacity to work painstakingly through a mass of detail, do comparative work in multiple locations, and draw significant theoretical conclusions. Detailing a genealogy of Islamic law and ‘mixed’ Islamic legal regimes, Hussin offers a sophisticated analysis that places these in the context of colonization and outlines the ways they have been shaped by an ongoing engagement between colonial powers and local elites.” –Mahmood Mamdani

 “The Politics of Islamic Law is a remarkable book, both for its breadth and lucidity. The archive that Hussin plumbs is vast (Malaya, India, Egypt) and her analysis sharp. In clear prose she shows the various ways in which British colonial rule transformed Islamic law to fit the requirements of the modern state. This is an important contribution that unsettles a number of assumptions about Islamic law and its modern history.” –Saba Mahmood


More information is available here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bosvieux-Onyekwelu on Public Service in France, 1873-1940

We are grateful to Thomas Perroud, Professeur de droit public à l’Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II), for word of a just-completed thesis by Charles Bosvieux-Onyekwelu, “From Sociodicy to a Science of State: Public Service as an Attempt to Shape the Social World through Law (1873-1940),” in the École doctorale de sciences de l’Homme et de la Société de l’Université Paris-Saclay (ED 578):
At the intersection of social history, the sociology of law and the sociology of elites, the thesis goes back to the origin of a key concept of the French Republican State: public service. Between 1870 and 1940, this idea, which preceded the new regime, is reshaped by different types of actors in a more democratic sense, as an aggiornamento of state-thought. The legal circles (senior officials of the Conseil d'État and law professors) took a prime position during this update. They notably took advantage of the rise in importance of administrative litigation to legitimate their position as opposed to civil law specialists and impose a vision "from above" of public service, understood as true science of administration. By retracing the sequence of events that made a myth from the Blanco case of 8 February 1873, the thesis aims to give an account of the construction of a profession, that of a lawyer specializing in public law or in administrative law, at the same time as the creation of a “public” field. Actors distant from the legal field (state engineers, philanthropists, social theorists of all kinds, civil service trade unionists) gravitate to this field, struggling either not to let the State's conception of generosity to the public be imposed on them, or to get the point of view of those dominated in this field (lower and middle bureaucrats, primary school teachers) across. The enquiry therefore highlights the unequal and differentiated distribution of interest for the "public", visible in the understanding of the democratic claims of the time (the right to strike and unionize in the civil service, municipalism, the Act of Parliament on income tax), that certain actors consistently tried to translate into categories of law regarded favourably as the only right approach to the social world. Finally, in an effort to think within the contemporaries of the time’s mindset (i.e. without reading history backwards and by taking virtual history into consideration), this socio-historical work enables the understanding of the transformation of the "self-concern" of the State in a democratic age, by describing the encounter between a traditional, sovereign and masculine right hand (epitomized by the members of the Conseil d'État) and the left hand of the protective and social State.

In terms of methodology and theoretical framework, the thesis is based on a prosopographical enquiry, the corpus of which is made from the different subgroups of exponents of the idea of public service between 1870 and 1940 (n = 77, the overwhelming majority are men). It alternates between an account and an analysis of the quantitative data drawn from the prosopographical enquiry, and combines archival ethnography (for the Conseil d'État), correspondence analysis and discourse analysis (administrative justice cases, jurisprudence and "theoretical" works on public service). It attempts a reasoned association between field theory and the sociology of professions. Also, as well as the career records of each individual in the prosopography, the archives that have been examined are those of the Conseil d'État, the Tribunal des conflits, law faculties (mainly Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse), the “agrégation” examination in law and unions (federations of civil servants + CGT in its relation with the State).

What Are You?: Producing A First Book Amid Disciplinary and Geographic Migrations

Before I start laying out my blogging agenda for the next month, I wanted to extend my thanks to the LHB team for the invitation. As I will discuss later, my finding a home in the legal history world was an unplanned but fortuitous turn in my career. Over the years, this blog has helped to showcase for my own consumption not only the quality, but also the diversity of scholars working under the legal history rubric.

Today, I want to provide a short road map of my upcoming blogs. Each of these will draw on one way in which producing my first book, The Futility of Law and Development: China and the Dangers of Exporting American Law, intersected with my background as a comparativist and as an anthropologist.

In the course of producing a first book that was only inspired by my doctoral dissertation, I routinely had difficulty describing exactly what my book “is” in a disciplinary sense. I have at times said it is comparative, international or transnational legal history; and all these labels are to some degree true. It is a book that primarily involves events in a foreign setting, China, but is most directly, from my view, a work of American legal history. Furthermore, answering the question at the heart of the book led me to engage with legal history, but also religious and diplomatic history. And throughout these encounters my training as an anthropologist influenced how I read, interpreted, and synthesized the sources I drew on from disparate archives and literatures. All of which was deeply impacted by my own autobiographical migrations, both in a disciplinary and a geographic sense.

So over the coming weeks I will present six posts on these themes:

1)    The Affinities and Disjunctures of History and Anthropology
2)     Subjectivity, Intent and Impact: The Gordian Knot of Empathy and Interpretation
3)     Functionalism and Synthetic History
4)     The Challenges of Comparative Law and Transnational History
5)     Empire and Imperialism: (Mis)Framing Cross-Cultural Engagements
6)     The Young Interdisciplinary Scholar in a Global Academic Market

In these posts I will advance a variety of claims related to how I came to think about my own method and perspective as a scholar. But I should say that comments and criticisms are more than welcome. I believe myself lucky to have been brought into legal history during a time when so much productive novelty and ingenuity is opening and re-opening exciting avenues of research. But coming to grips with how to do well what is novel is recurrent scholarly challenge, and I am still far from having worked it all out myself!

Steinberg on Law, Labor, and the Industrial Revolution in England

Looks like we missed this book when it came out earlier this year: England's Great Transformation: Law, Labor, and the Industrial Revolution (University of Chicago, 2016), by Marc W. Steinberg (Smith College). Here's a description from the Press:
With England’s Great Transformation, Marc W. Steinberg throws a wrench into our understanding of the English Industrial Revolution, largely revising the thesis at heart of Karl Polanyi’s landmark The Great Transformation. The conventional wisdom has been that in the nineteenth century, England quickly moved toward a modern labor market where workers were free to shift from employer to employer in response to market signals. Expanding on recent historical research, Steinberg finds to the contrary that labor contracts, centered on insidious master-servant laws, allowed employers and legal institutions to work in tandem to keep employees in line.

Building his argument on three case studies—the Hanley pottery industry, Hull fisheries, and Redditch needlemakers—Steinberg employs both local and national analyses to emphasize the ways in which these master-servant laws allowed employers to use the criminal prosecutions of workers to maintain control of their labor force. Steinberg provides a fresh perspective on the dynamics of labor control and class power, integrating the complex pathways of Marxism, historical institutionalism, and feminism, and giving readers a subtle yet revelatory new understanding of workplace control and power during England’s Industrial Revolution.
A few blurbs:
“Steinberg’s meticulous study rethinks the relationship between the labor process and the state, between market and society, and between base and superstructure during Britain’s industrial revolution. The law was thoroughly embedded in relations of production, and in ways that varied with local configurations of technology, labor requirements, and political power. That finding leads Steinberg to uncover other surprises: ‘free labor’ came to England later than usually thought, and it came with the backing of organized labor seeking protection, not by, but from the state. The book is compelling reading for students of labor, political economy, and comparative-historical sociology.” -- Jeffrey M. Haydu
“Steinberg returns us to the question of labor control in nineteenth-century England, and in meticulous detail shows how the law becomes an instrument of capitalist exploitation. England’s Great Transformation’s focus on the legal basis of work organization is not only of historical significance—it is as pertinent to today’s on-demand economy as it is to Chinese state capitalism. A thrilling book that plunges into the important debates about the nature of workplace politics.” -- Michael Burawoy
More information is available here. And for even more, check out this interview with Professor Steinberg on the New Books Network.