Fahad Ahmad Bishara is a doctoral candidate in history at Duke University. He holds a master’s degree in Arab Studies from the University of Exeter. His dissertation, “A Sea of Debt: Law, Empire and Commercial Society in the Western Indian Ocean, 1850-1940,” approximates a genealogy of commercial obligation in the region. In it, he explores how an Islamicate contractual culture in Arabia and East Africa encountered an evolving Anglo-Indian legal regime that gave pre-eminence to written deeds and formal titles – legal vehicles that Arab and African merchants approached with flexibility. Bishara’s work examines how economic actors actively shaped the changing legal landscape of commerce, mobilizing existing commercial and legal instruments in imaginative ways in order to assert their property rights within the new framework.
Ari Bryen is an ACLS New Faculty Fellow, appointed jointly in the Departments of Rhetoric and Classics at UC Berkeley. He earned a Ph.D. in 2008 from the University of Chicago, where he wrote his dissertation on interpersonal violence in Roman-period Egypt. His interests in ancient legal documents have led him to ask about the role of law and courts in day-to-day life in Rome's provinces, and in imperial encounters in general. Working with ancient documents has also given him an interest in historical methodology, that is, in the array of humanistic and social-scientific reading techniques for extracting new answers and questions from old, fragmentary, and occasionally intractable bits of ancient trash. This has involved looking at processes of drafting and archiving, interpreting visual and literary modes of presenting legal information, and of tracing how stories about laws, courts, and rulers come to be redacted and retold by non-elite actors.
Leia Castañeda is an LL.M. and S.J.D. graduate of Harvard Law School and a Research Associate of its East Asian Legal Studies Program. Her dissertation, “Creating ‘Exceptional’ Empire: American Liberal Constitutionalism and the Construction of the Constitutional Order of the Philippine Islands, 1898-1935,” examines the American colonial origins of the modern Philippine state. It portrays President William McKinley’s “benevolent imperialism” as having attempted to reconcile imperial coercion and democratic consent by channeling colonialism’s civilizing impulse through a representative, progressive, yet constitutionally limited colonial government that undertook to modernize the Philippine Islands through colonial democracy and developmental capitalism and thereby create Filipino sovereign capacity. Her work demonstrates how American colonial officials and Filipino elite leaders deployed the language and strategies of what was becoming a shared political tradition as they collaborated and contested over the composition and direction of the Government of the Philippine Islands and forged in the crucible of colonial practice the constitutional foundations that have ordered post-independence Philippine law, politics, economy, and society.
Orna Alyagon Darr holds a Ph.D. from Haifa University and is a lecturer at Carmel Academic Center. She previously practiced 12 years as a public defender. Her work explores the social embeddedness of evidence law. Her book, Marks of an Absolute Witch (forthcoming in 2011 by Ashgate Publishing) analyses the debate concerning the proof of the serious-but-hard-to-prove crime of witchcraft in early modern England (1542-1736). Her analysis demonstrates that evidential methods are not necessarily the fruit of an intentional truth-seeking process but are rather shaped in the course of a symbolic struggle between the various social players who employ evidentiary strategies to realize their goals and bolster their social and professional standing. Her next project sets out to examine the social embeddedness of evidence law in a different context - the proof of sex crimes in mandate Palestine and Israel from 1917 until today. The research aims to examine the different voices in the public debate about the legitimate ways of proving these crimes. The study tries to examine how the different evidentiary dispositions of the social agents who propagate them relate to their social attributes such as gender, class, ethnicity, religion, profession, and membership in social movements and organizations.
Rohit De is a doctoral candidate in history at Princeton University. He holds an LL.M from Yale Law School and a B.A, LL.B (Hons) degree from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. His dissertation, “The Republic of Writs: Litigious Citizens and the Rule of Law in India (1947-1962)” aims to understand how liberal democracy and constitutionalism have become the governing frame for India. In it he examines litigation by citizens against the new Indian republic and engages with questions of citizenship, postcolonial transformation and legal consciousness through a social history of constitutional and administrative law. Before starting at Princeton, Rohit spent a year as the Fox International Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University where he worked on a project comparing the approaches of courts in “secular” democracies towards minority religions. Rohit is also interested in comparative constitutional law, he has clerked at the Supreme Court of India with Justice K.G Balakrishna, then Chief Justice of India and worked with the constitution reform projects in Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Arthur Mitchell Fraas is a doctoral candidate in the history department at Duke University. He will be defending his dissertation “‘They Have Travailed Into a Wrong Latitude:’ The Laws of England, Indian Settlements, and the British Imperial Constitution 1726-1773” in April. His work details the legal cultures of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta and their place in a nascent imperial constitution during the mid-eighteenth century. The dissertation argues for a more unitary understanding of law and legal culture throughout the early modern British Empire, whether in the Americas or Asia. He is also interested in the evolution of legal documents and legal printing as well as the teaching of legal history through primary sources.
Will Hanley is an assistant professor of history at Florida State University. He received his Ph.D. in history from Princeton University in 2007. He is currently working on two books: a social history of nationality in Alexandria between 1880 and 1914, and an institutional history of law in Egypt between 1875 and 1950. Both studies draw on research in the archives of British and French consular courts, as well as records of the police and national courts in Egypt.
Nate Holdren is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Minnesota. His dissertation, “‘The Compensation Law Put Us Out Of Work’: Law, Workplace Injury, and Disability in the Early 20th Century United States,” argues that workplace injury law in early 20th capitalism created a new notion of disability, understood as the inability to work. He argues that legal responses to employees’ injury risks led employers to financial risk management strategies which ultimately excluded people with disabilities from employment. In the process, employers, attorneys, and industrial physicians transformed notions of ability and disability.
Alison Lefkovitz is a visiting assistant professor in the History Department at Miami University. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in August of 2010. Lefkovitz is currently at work on her book manuscript The Politics of Marriage in the Era of Women’s Liberation. In it, she explores how legal and political agents worked the category of gender out of marriage, and how a host of lawmakers, judges, activists, and ordinary men and women subsequently struggled to redefine family and marriage without gender. She argues that eliminating the legal gendered roles of husband and wife helped to produce new entitlements for men and women alike, new punitive measures against welfare recipients, new legal claims to gay marriage, and new rallying points for the conservative movement.
Howard Pashman is a student in Northwestern University's joint J.D.-Ph.D. program, with the Ph.D. in early American history. His dissertation is titled “Making Revolution Work: Law and Politics in New York, 1776-1783.” In it he analyzes how, during the American Revolution, supporters of independence restrained popular violence and built a stable legal order that most people found legitimate. When royal government collapsed, people took the law the into their own hands and enforced a kind of rough justice. They ignored or purposefully thwarted a weak central state as they assaulted political enemies with impunity. But slowly, over seven years of war, they contained that popular aggression and redirected it through the legal institutions of a fledgling state. The dissertation analyzes that process in one state to understand how a group of Americans transformed popular violence into popular sovereignty.
Keramet Reiter is a doctoral candidate in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at the University of California - Berkeley. She holds an M.A. in criminal justice from the City University of New York - John Jay College and a J.D. from the University of California - Berkeley. Her dissertation, “The Most Restrictive Alternative: The Origins, Functions, Control, and Implications of the Supermax Prison, 1976-2010,” explores the history and uses of supermaximum security prisons, where people are detained in solitary confinement for years, and even decades, at a time, in the United States. The dissertation particularly focuses on the role of courts and administrative actors, like correctional bureaucrats, in shaping this 1980s punishment innovation. In addition to her work on the history of the supermax prison boom – Arizona opened the first modern supermax in 1986, and almost every state copied that model over the next 15 years – Reiter has also conducted original research on the history and development of administrative law governing prisoner participation in medical experimentation over the last forty years in the United States.
Felicity Turner is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. She completed her dissertation, “Narrating Infanticide: Constructing the Modern Gendered State in Nineteenth-Century America”, at Duke University, from which she graduated in May 2010. Drawing on over two hundred cases of infant death and infanticide from Connecticut, Illinois, and North Carolina, Turner’s dissertation traces how modern ideas about gender and race became embedded in the institutions of law and government between the Revolution and the end of Reconstruction.
Kimberly Welch is a Law & Society Fellow at the American Bar Foundation and a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland. She holds a Master of Arts in American History from American University. Welch’s interests center on race, gender, and the local legal culture in the antebellum U.S. South. Her dissertation, “People at Law: Subordinate Southerners and Local Legal Culture in Mississippi and Louisiana, 1820-1860”, employs civil and criminal court records, church disciplinary hearings, and other local legal records to investigate the relationship between law and subordinated people in the Old South.
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