Law & Legalities (2018-2020)

Law and Legalities Lady Justice; CC0 Creative Commons

During the academic years 2018/19 and 2019/20, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies will focus of the topic of “Law & Legalities.” This two-year seminar will bring together scholars working on law in societies around the world and throughout human history, on topics including (but not restricted to) state administration, gender and sexuality, race, religion, property, science, environment, technology, war, migration, commerce, medicine, disability, incarceration, and human rights. How have legal, illegal, quasi-legal, and extra-legal forms of social order interacted in different periods and places? We will consider the historical possibilities and predicaments that have emerged within legal and juridical systems (both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’), as well as the conflicts that have arisen from the overlapping jurisdictions of custom, community, religion, nation-state, empire, and international bodies.

Davis Center Fellows


Tatiana Borisova, National Research University Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg
Imperial Russian law and violence

Tom Johnson, University of York (UK)
Law in medieval England

Lena Salaymeh, Tel Aviv Law School
Islamic law and secularization

Franziska Seraphim, Boston College
Japan & Germany, prosecution of war crimes

Mitra Sharafi, University of Wisconsin Law School
Forensics in 19th- and 20th-century colonial India

Elizabeth Thornberry, Johns Hopkins University
Colonial law in 19th- and 20th-century South Africa

Barbara Welke, University of Minnesota
US injury law

Postdoctoral Fellows on the Sub-Theme of “Law & Difference”

George Aumoithe, Ph.D. Columbia University, 2018
20th-century public health law and administration, race, and sexuality
Davis Center Postdoc, 2018-20

Jonathan Connolly, Ph.D./J.D. Stanford, 2017
19th-century emancipation law and indentured labor migration in the British Empire
Davis Center Postdoc, 2018-19

Davis Center Conferences

Decolonization and International Law (March 2019)
Natalie Zemon Davis Workshop (May 2019)
Law, Difference, and Healthcare: Making Sense of Structural Racism in Medico-Legal History (June 2019)

Decolonization & International Law conference posterNatalie Zemon Davis Workshop posterLaw, Difference, and Healthcare poster, 2019