American Journal of Legal History

The latest edition of the American Journal of Legal History has now been published ( 58:3 (September 2018)).


  • Revisiting the Critiques of Those Who Upheld the Fugitive Slave Acts in the 1840s and ‘50s
    Peter Karsten
  • The Law Wars in Massachusetts, 1830-1860: How a Band of Upstart Radical Lawyers Defeated the Forces of Law and Order, and Struck a Blow for Freedom and Equality Under Law
    Alexandra D Lahav; R Kent Newmyer
  • “O Amherst, Where is Thy Shame?”: Republican Opposition to Federalist Policies in a New England Town    Susan J Siggelakis; Nicholas Mignanelli
  • Judicial Intervention in Early Corporate Governance Disputes: Vice-Chancellor Shadwell’s Lost Judgment in Mozley v Alston (1847)    Victoria Barnes

Book Reviews

  • David Barker, A History of Australian Legal Education    Mark Lunney
  • Dante Fedele, Naissance de la diplomatie moderne (XIIIe-XVIIe siècles). L’ambassadeur au croisement du droit, de l’éthique et de la politique
    Frederik Dhondt
  • Shaunnagh Dorsett, Juridical Encounters: Ma-ori and the Colonial Courts 1840 – 1852
    Katherine Sanders
  • Guido Rossi, Insurance in Elizabethan England. The London Code
    Dave De ruysscher
  • Mark Lunney, A History of Australian Tort Law 1901–1945: England’s Obedient Servant? Henry Kha

Call for Papers: Contested Kinship, Göttingen

International Conference, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 14-16 March 2019. Dealdine for abstracts: 1 October 2018.

Keynote Speakers: Professor Margaret Homans (Yale University) and Professor Elisabeth Peel (Loughborough University)

Throughout Western history and legal traditions, kinship has been firmly rooted within the bounds of blood relations. This naturalisation of kinship continues in modern technologies: genetic research projects such as the Human Genome Project and technologies such as DNA kinship analysis extend the concept of blood relations from the unit of the family to that of ethnic groups. Legal regimes equally tend to the privileging of genetic relations, even today.

From a Cultural Studies perspective, this is highly problematic: it points towards an essentialist understanding of kinship, predetermined by birth; it naturalises subjecthood based on genetic bonds and genealogy; it attributes symbolic value to a concept of genetic sameness rather than diversity; and it supports the family as a key site of power and discipline.

Arguments for a non-essentialist redefinition of kinship have been put forward from a number of fields, including philosophy, gender studies, literary and cultural studies, and cultural anthropology. Judith Butler (2004) reads kinship as a problematic allegory for the origin of culture, arguing for an understanding of kinship beyond the normative restraints of biological relations. Similarly, Donna Haraway (1995) takes a dim view of the historically fatal consequences of blood-based kinship. However, the attraction of the genealogical origin is not limited to patriarchal narratives. Margaret Homans (2013) has looked at origin stories in adoption narratives and pointed to the paradoxical situation of feminism which on the one hand advocates non-essentialist, non-nuclear, non-heteronormative forms of kinship, and on the other hand acknowledges the power of the particular relation between birthmother and child. Damien Riggs and Elizabeth Peel (2016) finally have staked out the field of critical kinship studies and formulated its focus as “the need to move beyond a humanist account of kinship.”

This conference aims at following this premise, and seeks to further research in the field of critical kinship studies by bringing together different disciplinary perspectives into a cultural hermeneutic approach. It invites contributions from a variety of academic fields, including anthropology, history, law, literary studies and others.

Possible topics include:

new biopolitical and legal forms of kinship: processes of naturalisation
elective affinities, alliances, networks: kinship metaphors and kinship technologies
the naturalisation of kinship in narratives.
plural forms of kinship
the myth of blood relations
interdependencies of legal, social, medial and biotechnical discourses
genealogy as a literary and cultural pattern
otherkin and transhuman discourses and figures of thought

We invite abstracts of 300 words for 20-min. presentations before 1 October 2018 to

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Inge Kroppenberg, Civil Law and Legal History; Göttingen Centre for Gender Studies; Dr. Nikolaus Linder, Legal History; Göttingen Centre for Gender Studies; Prof. Dr. Barbara Schaff, English Literature and Cultural Studies; Göttingen Centre for Gender Studies

Postdoctoral Bursary 2018

The Irish Legal History Society is delighted to announce that the 2018 Postdoctoral Bursary is awarded to Dr Claudia Passarella from the University of Padua.

Dr. Passarella graduated in Law with honours in 2011 from the University of Padua with a thesis directed by Professor Chiara Maria Valsecchi. She received her Ph.D. in Legal Sciences (History of Medieval and Modern Law) from the University of Milan in 2015. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the administration of criminal justice in modern Venice. From July 2015 to June 2016 Dr. Claudia Passarella carried out her research project thanks to the Postdoctoral Fellowship provided by the Fratelli Confalonieri Foundation (Milan). Since July 2016, she has been working as Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Padua. Her recent publications include:

  • Claudia Passarella, La pena di morte a Venezia in età moderna, «Historia et Ius», XI (2017), peer review journal, paper 14, pp. 1-27
  • Claudia Passarella, La tortura giudiziaria nella Repubblica di Venezia nei secoli XVI-XVI «Historia et Ius», IX (2016), peer review journal, paper 10, pp. 1-29
  • Claudia Passarella, Tre pratiche civili del foro veneziano: un primo confronto, «Studi veneziani», LXXII (2015), pp. 293-326
  • Claudia Passarella, Deciani Tiberio, in Clariores. Dizionario biografico dei docenti e degli studenti dell’Università di Padova, Piero del Negro (Ed.), Padova, University Press, 2015, pp. 126-127
  • Claudia Passarella, Guido da Suzzara, in Clariores. Dizionario biografico dei docenti e degli studenti dell’Università di Padova, Piero del Negro (Ed.), Padova, University Press, 2015, pag. 184\Claudia Passarella, I conflitti di attribuzione tra potere giudiziario e amministrazione, in Avvocati protagonisti e rinnovatori del primo diritto unitario, Stefano Borsacchi – Gian Savino Pene Vidari (Eds.), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2014, pp. 859-871
  • Claudia Passarella, Venetian Rectors and Jurisdiction in the Terraferma – I rettori veneziani e l’amministrazione della giustizia in Terraferma, in Pax Tibi Marce Venice: government, law, jurisprudence – Venezia: istituzioni, diritto, giurisprudenza, Silvia Gasparini (Ed.), online at , pp. 1-5
  • Claudia Passarella, Edoardo Deodati (1821 – 1896), in Avvocati che fecero l’Italia, Stefano Borsacchi – Gian Savino Pene Vidari (Eds.), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011, pp. 322-328
  • Claudia Passarella, Leone Fortis (1814 – 1885), in Avvocati che fecero l’Italia, Stefano Borsacchi – Gian Savino Pene Vidari (Eds.), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011, pp. 315-322

Dr. Passarella will visit Dublin in Autumn 2018. Her current research project focuses on lay participation in Italian criminal justice in the late modern age by adopting a comparative approach. Whilst in Ireland, she will be examining the Irish system of jury trials in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Details of the Irish Legal History Society’s bursary schemes can be found here.