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Assessing Museums Online

The Digital Heritage Sustainability (DHS) Framework

Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws

Digital materials, the primary resources for the production of contemporary culture, have brought many challenges to the heritage sector in relation to their curation, conservation, and dissemination. Digital heritage sustainability involves practices that help ensure the maintenance, enrichment, and enjoyment of digital heritage resources over periods of time that span across generations. The digital heritage sustainability (DHS) framework presented in this article provides an analytic basis for understanding the challenges associated with the use of digital materials in museums and for assessing how digital heritage resources can be sustained over time. As an example of use, the framework is applied to the Museum of London's digital resources.

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Identity and Traditional Law

Local Legal Conceptions in Svan Villages, Georgia

Stéphane Voell, Natia Jalabadze, Lavrenti Janiashvili and Elke Kamm

Traditional law continues to be relevant for the Svans (Georgians), who usually live in the highlands of the Caucasus, but who have also migrated to various parts of Georgia. To grasp its practice we draw on approaches in which its use is discussed as a strategy for '(re)asserting collective identities' (Benda-Beckmann) in order to enforce specific goals. But our research also shows another dimension of traditional law: more than in actual conflict resolutions, traditional law is found in narratives, that is in memories of how conflicts were resolved earlier and should be solved today. These stories, however, of how and when traditional law should be applied rarely correspond to lived reality. Drawing on Brubaker and Cooper, we argue that beside a rather instrumental motivated use of traditional law in asserting collective identities, its contemporary practice can only be fully understood if we also acknowledge its non-instrumental practice.

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The Empire of Law

Dignity, Prestige, and Domination in the “Colonial Situation”

Emmanuelle Saada

My contribution is an attempt to resolve one of those enigmas that the French colonial archives hold for assiduous readers. In the course of comparative research on the juridical status of métis children in the French Empire,1 I was struck by the frequency with which the terms “dignity” and “prestige” figured in a wide range of colonial preoccupations—whether on the part of local or central administrations, private individuals or institutions. These were not merely personal or social qualities, but terms that had precise legal meanings and that played a central role in colonial jurisprudence. In this context, the terms were predominantly used in the negative—referring to threats to prestige (atteintes au prestige) or to the obligation to maintain one’s dignity (garder sa dignité).

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Succession Law in Israel

Individualism and the Family

Shelly Kreiczer-Levy

Succession law has faced enormous challenges in recent years, as changes in family structure have begun to emerge. The purpose of this article is to examine how Israeli succession law defines and shapes familial relations and the function of the different actors (legislature and courts) in this process. In addition, the article analyzes the tension between the free will of the property owner and familial obligations related to inheritance law. In doing so, it focuses on two legal rules: intestate succession rules, which reflect the role of the legislature in defining the family, and undue influence, which demonstrates the role of the courts in shaping familial structures.

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Liberty, Law and Leviathan

Of Being Free from Impediments by Artifice

Lena Halldenius

The argument in this article is that Hobbes' theory of freedom in Leviathan allows for four ways of being free to act - corporal freedom by nature, freedom from obligation by nature, the freedom to disobey and the freedom of no-rule - each corresponding to a particular absence, some of which make sense only in the civil state. Contrary to what some have claimed, this complexity does not commit Hobbes to an unarticulated definition of freedom in tension with the only one that he explicitly offers, which is that freedom consists of nothing other than the absence of external impediments of motion. To be free from obligation is to be free from impediments. As a political subject in the state, the power that is blocked or compelled by law is a person's power to perform artificial acts as her will directs. Laws and prior commitments are external impediments that block or compel making an artificial, institution-dependent act either impossible or unavoidable. The bonds of law bind artificially yet corporally, given that the power that makes them is, quite literally, an external body that moves at will.

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William A. Quinn

Chaucer’s ‘The Man of Law’s Tale’ is mostly about Custance’s wanderings to Rome’s far east, then to the far west, then back again. The narrator’s Ptolemaic universe was thought to have a still centre, but neither this specific tale nor the Tales as a whole seems reducible to a single interpretive order. Too many thematic and tonal threads pull in too many directions, as if this tale’s cosmos presumes some medieval anticipation of the current, highly speculative ‘String Theory’ which admits the possibility of a multiverse in which numerous concurrent realities (of reader-responses) can coexist. The question remains whether so many divergent interpretive threads can be spliced together into one ‘Theory of Everything’.

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Law, Politics, Justice, and Society

Israel in a Comparative Context

Gad Barzilai

Law is an important ingredient in politics, and politics is an important layer in law. Law is always being shaped, formed, articulated, and enforced in the context of socio-political power relations. This is true regarding any political regime, and it is also true in Israel. While the number of publications on law and society in Israel is vast and multi-disciplinary, edited volumes on law, politics, and society in Israel are relatively rare. Hence, the initiative of the Israel Studies Review to dedicate its first guest-edited issue to the topic “Law, Politics, Justice, and Society: Israel in a Comparative Context” is certainly an encouraging move as part of a more general effort to promote research on the multifaceted aspects of Israel’s society, nation-state, law, and political regime.

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The rule of soft law

An introduction

Filippo M. Zerilli

This introductory article aims to clarify why soft law is an interesting field to explore from a legal anthropological perspective and to point out a number of issues this theme section suggests taking into consideration. The article provides the context for the theme section, inserting soft law within global legal concerns and processes. It outlines the emergence of the notion of soft law, and summarizes the controversies it has raised among legal scholars and law practitioners. Then it explains why, despite the elusive character of the notion and its uncertain normative status, as soon as we move beyond a number of emblematic concerns for law practitioners, soft law mechanisms and practices appear to be a vantage point to explore the emerging transnational legal order, and particularly the relations among state, supra-state, and non-state (private) forms of regulation. Finally, the article introduces the articles in the special section of this issue by highlighting the ways in which they empirically deal with soft law practices and global legal pluralism in a variety of social fields and contexts, using ethnographic sensitivity and imagination.

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From soft to hard law?

Culture, identity, and language issues within the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights process

Elizabeth Craig

This article explores the use of soft law by those involved in the drafting of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, drawing in particular on the author's experiences as legal adviser to the Culture, Identity, and Language Working Group of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. The article reflects on the extent to which the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities 1995 and other relevant international instruments can be considered as forms of international soft law. It then highlights controversies that have arisen in debates over the content and scope of provisions addressing culture, identity, and language issues in any future Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

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Niklas Hultin

This article examines the discourse surrounding the circulation of legal information in urban Gambia. It argues that ideas of information sharing suggest that Gambian law is fundamentally opaque, not simply in that it is not transparent but that it is only partially known. Drawing on the insights of Marilyn Strathern and other 'Melanesianists', the article further proposes that information sharing is a kind of relation and that opacity is a way of cutting relations. This in turn presents a way of apprehending African law that differs from the current emphasis on illegality and sovereignty in Africanist legal anthropology and focuses instead on emendation as a modality of engaging the law.