Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Legal Life Writing: Marginalized Subjects and Sources

Much interesting legal history in 42:1 (March 2015) of the Journal of Law and Society, a special issue entitled Legal Life Writing: Marginalized Subjects and Sources.

David Sugarman, From Legal Biography to Legal Life Writing: Broadening Conceptions of Legal History and Socio-Legal Scholarship
This article describes and analyses how legal life writing has grown to embrace a wider range of subjects, sources, and methods – from eminent white male judges to women, minorities, displaced persons, and outsiders – and explains and justifies it as an intellectual project. It considers some of life writing's challenges, shortcomings, and dilemmas, suggesting ways forward. The aim is to advance an important, inter-disciplinary perspective in the making: namely, a more pluralistic, democratic conception of legal life writing, which offers new ways of advancing legal history and socio-legal scholarship, encouraging inter-disciplinary dialogue. It is argued that legal life writing demonstrates the value of historical thinking in comprehending law, politics, and culture; it can also supplement the study of law, helping legal historians and socio-legal scholars to develop new skills and embrace a wider range of participants and audiences, thereby enhancing their ability to engage with public issues and public history.
Rosemary Auchmuty, Recovering Lost Lives: Researching Women in Legal History
Drawing on the research I undertook into the life of Gwyneth Bebb, who in 1913 challenged the Law Society of England and Wales for their refusal to admit women to the solicitors’ profession, this article focuses on the range of sources one might use to explore the lives of women in law, about whom there might be a few public records but little else, and on the ways in which sources, even official ones, might be imaginatively used. It traces the research process from the case that inspired the research (Bebb v. the Law Society [1914] 1 Ch 286) through to the creation of an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and what this means for women's history, emphasizing the importance of asking the ‘woman question’ and seeking out the broader significance of a woman's life in the context of her times.
Mara Malagodi, Ivor Jennings's Constitutional Legacy Beyond the Occidental-Oriental Divide
Sir W. Ivor Jennings (1903–1965) was one of Britain's most prominent constitutional law scholars of the twentieth century. He is mostly famed for his work in the 1930s on English Public Law. In 1941, Jennings, however, moved to Sri Lanka, progressively becoming involved in both an academic and professional capacity with constitutional processes across the decolonizing world in the early stages of the Cold War. This article provides an alternative account of Jennings's constitutional legacy to those of existing scholars by combining orthodox accounts of the ‘Occidental Jennings’ with an analysis of the neglected ‘Oriental’ experiences of this influential intellectual. It examines the ambiguous relationship between constitutionalism and democracy in Jennings's constitutional work overseas, and the impact of his postcolonial work on his views on constitutionalism.
Fiona Cownie, The United Kingdom's First Woman Law Professor: An Archerian Analysis
In 1970, at Queen's University Belfast, Claire Palley became the first woman to hold a Chair in Law at a United Kingdom university. However, little is known about the circumstances surrounding this event, or Claire Palley herself. This article (part of an extended project exploring her life history) seeks to address the question ‘Was there something about Claire Palley herself that made it more likely she would become the United Kingdom's first female law professor?’ Initially focusing on method, it seeks to answer that question by utilizing, for the first time in the context of legal education, the theoretical perspective provided by the work of the sociologist Margaret Archer. Reflecting upon Claire Palley's subjectivity, it focuses on those aspects of her personality which enabled her to pursue a successful career and become a pioneer in her chosen profession.
Catharine MacMillan, Judah Benjamin: Marginalized Outsider or Admitted Insider?
Judah Benjamin (1811–1884) was one of the greatest of nineteenth century lawyers. This article analyses how a young man who might have been marginalized in society because of the circumstances of his birth, ethnic origin, and religious identity rose to prominence in law, politics, and business in the United Kingdom and the United States.

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