Monday, November 8, 2021

ASLH Names Tau Anzoátegui Honorary Fellow

[Here is the citation for the Honorary Fellowship of the American Society for Legal History for Víctor Tau Anzoátegui.  It was read by Amalia D. Kessler, Lewis Talbot and Nadine Hearn Shelton Professor of International Legal Studies, Stanford Law School. DRE]

--The Society is pleased to welcome as Honorary Fellow Víctor Tau Anzoátegui, former Titular Regular Professor of the History of Argentine Law in the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires and Senior Researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina.  

--Professor Tau is the pre-eminent legal historian of Latin America.  His work revolutionized the field of early modern Spanish American law.  

--He is also known as a generous mentor, not just to his own students but to every young scholar who crosses his path.

--Professor Tau graduated from the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires as an Abogado in 1957.  

--He received a doctorate in Law and Social Sciences from the same faculty in 1963.  

--In addition to his position at the University of Buenos Aires, he has been Professor of the History of Public Law at the Catholic University of Argentina, First Deputy Director of the Instituto de Investigaciones de Historia del Derecho since 1995, and President of Argentina's Academia Nacional de la Historia (1994-1999).  

--He is a member of the national academies of history of Argentina, Spain, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Colombia, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Hamburg, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and the University of Oviedo.

--Before Professor Tau began his work, the standard narrative was that law in Spanish America was essentially an extension of centralized royal authority in Spain.  

--Colonial law in this view was expressed through royal decrees that defined the derecho indiano-the law of the Indies-as something largely separate from Spanish law itself and independent of social or cultural influences.  

--Professor Tau's great insight was that colonial law was not a separate domain-that neither in the colonies nor in Spain was there a codified written law, nor could law be reduced to royal orders.  

--Instead, he revealed the pervasiveness of customary law and wrote extensively about the messy character of Spanish American law.  

--Little by little by little, he dismantled the assumptions of the preceding generations.  
--He directed attention away from royal legislation, insisting instead that there was no one law but many different laws, that there was no coherent theoretical system but one based on specific solutions to specific problems, and that the authorities engaged in the task of making and applying the law were not just Spanish but also Indigenous, African, and local, as well as experts of all kinds and shapes.

--Professor Tau first articulated this approach in two volumes published in 1992, The law in Hispanic America: From Discovery to Emancipation and Casuismo y Sistema: Historical Inquiry into the Spirit of Derecho Indiano.  

--He was already justly celebrated for major works in Argentine national legal history that combined intellectual history, the history of institutions, political history, and the history of legal culture.  He expanded this perspective five years later in a third volume-New Horizons in the Historical Study of the Derecho Indiano-that set the agenda for the entire field.  

--Besides emphasizing the role of legal history as social and cultural history, Professor Tau identified previously-neglected research areas in the study of derecho indiano-such as histories of lawyers, book history, the importance of moral theology, the role of jurists, the production of local norms, and the long-lasting influence of colonial legal history on nation-states

--Beyond his own path-breaking scholarship, Professor Tau has invested deeply in the larger international community of legal historians.  

--For more than thirty years he has been a leader-and for many years director-of the most important institution dedicated to studying derecho indiano, the Instituto Internacional de Derecho Indiano in Buenos Aires.  

--Under his leadership, the Institute and its journal, Revista de Historia del Derecho, became an important center for research on legal history far beyond Argentina.  

--From his perch at the Institute, Professor Tau-a genuinely warm, open scholar who delights in the company of those who delight in legal history-has inspired generations of scholars in Argentina, Brasil, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, and elsewhere, and connected them with one another as they pursued their research.  

--Indeed, every scholar we consulted commented on how generous Professor Tau had been to them when they were junior scholars or even graduate students who had wandered into the library of his Institute.

--The scholars we elect as Honorary Fellows are distinguished not simply by scholarship that has shaped the broad discipline of legal history and influenced the work of others, but also by their commitment to building their fields and helping other, younger, scholars stand on their shoulders and carry the work forward.  

--For decades, Professor Tau's care for the field he transformed and for the people who work in it have shined through everything he does.  

--He is a truly gifted, accomplished, and generous scholar who has revolutionized his field and built an international community while rarely leaving his birthplace, Buenos Aires.  

--We are pleased and honored to welcome him as an Honorary Fellow of the Society.