Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Jotwell Roundup from Smita Ghosh

[We are grateful to Smita Ghosh, a JD/ABD at the University of Pennsylvania (and former Associate Legal History Blogger) for this roundup of recent legal history posts on Jotwell.  DRE]

Valentines Day has come and gone. Legal historians may have been too busy thinking about love and may have neglected its important alternative: liking a lot. Jotwell (the "Journal of Things We Like (Lots)") features reviews of recently published books and articles, and has published a number of reviews about well-liked legal history articles since the beginning of this year.

Angela Fernandez reviews Renisa Mawani's Across Oceans of Law: The Komagata Maru and Jurisdiction in the Time of Empire (Duke Univ. Press, 2018), a powerful tale of Indian anti-colonialism that uses what Mawani calls "oceans as method." Mawani tells the story of the failed passage of the Komagata Maru, a British trading ship that British authorities sought to regulate to limit Indian access to Canada and, eventually, stem resistance to imperial rule. Fernandez wonders if legal scholars can put other nonhuman entities at the center of their analysis.

Mary Ziegler reviews Stacie Taranto's Kitchen Table Politics: Conservative Women and Family Values in New York (Penn Press, 2017), which examines grassroots efforts, led by Catholic homemakers, to criminalize abortion in New York State and defeat the state's ERA. Ziegler calls this a "captivating case study of the strategies still used by populist legal reform movement," as well as a study of "maternalist politics" in historical context.

Aya Gruber's review of Dorothy Roberts'  Abolition Constitutionalism, 133 Harv. L. Rev. 1 (2019) describes Roberts' history of the prison abolitionist movement and also engages with the movement's historical claims--that prisons "can be traced back to slavery and the racial capitalist regime it relied on and sustained." Roberts also finds power in the Antebellum-era radical Republican argument that the Constitution prohibited slavery, although Gruber doubts the "redemptive power" of the Constitution in this context. 

Finally, you can check out Rebecca Zietlow's review of Justin Simard's Citing Slavery (72 Stan. L. Rev. 79 (2020)), which documents the extent to which present-day judges cite cases involving enslaved people and, as Zietlow says, "mask the racial injustice embedded in our law." Tired of reading? Simard has also been featured on the August 24 episode of the Ipse Dixit Podcast.