CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY LAW AND SOCIETY SYMPOSIUM
Family and Justice in the Archives: Histories of Intimacy in Transnational Perspective
Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
6-7 May 2019
CALL FOR PAPERS
Family and Justice in the Archives will bring together historians, legal scholars, and others for a discussion about the challenges and opportunities offered by the use of legal records for exploring the intimate worlds of family life. The intimacies that interest us were located initially in the private spaces of lineage, estate, family, household, and bedroom; they are both dramatic and quotidian, material and emotional, and invariably tied up in gendered and generational hierarchies of power and privilege. At the same time, they are made accessible – years, generations, or centuries later – through the written traces left by public proceedings that occurred in legally sanctioned spaces of social regulation, from the notary’s office to the criminal or civil courtroom to the legislative arena. We are especially interested in the ways in which historians and other scholars have been unpacking the stories of intimacy revealed in processes of legal regulation to develop rich new insights about family, gender, sex, power, culture, identity, and daily life throughout history and across the planet.
Through this two-day symposium, we seek to encourage transnational conversations about families, the law, and the archives. The conveners have been exploring Quebec’s rich judicial archives with the following questions in mind: How did the judicial system transmit and reinforce hegemonic notions of class, race, ethnicity, and gender? How, when, and why did family disputes over property, honour, rights, or reputation cross the judicial threshold to become the object of court proceedings? What levels of intra-familal violence were tolerated and at what point were state authorities called upon to intervene? How did a particular blend of legal codes and cultures reflect the society’s wider assumptions about acceptable and respectable conduct for women and men, especially in the area of sexuality, courtship, family formation, and sexual identity? How and when did judicial rulings and court proceedings diverge from legal code or custom in response to local circumstances? Did some litigants manage to manoeuvre, manipulate, challenge, or even change the law through their encounters with the judicial apparatus? And what happened when individuals crossed the boundaries of the acceptable and respectable into transgressive, deviant, or criminalized behaviour?
Family and Justice in the Archives seeks to broaden those discussions radically outwards towards a wide range of times, places, cultures, and legal systems. Participants are invited to present work on how stories of intimacy – sexual, emotional, domestic, or otherwise – are revealed in and shaped by the legal archives they use. We hope to foster discussion of these questions across as broad a range of historical and geographical contexts as possible, pre-modern and modern, settler-colonial and Indigenous, with special attention to situations (like Quebec) where some form of legal pluralism prevailed. We welcome proposals for papers that engage with these questions and on a wide range topics that may include adoption, bigamy, child custody, divorce and separation, domestic violence, family honour, filial duty, inheritance, juvenile justice, marital obligations, parental authority, reproductive rights, sexual diversity, sexual violence, and sibling relationships, to name just these few.
Family and Justice in the Archives will inaugurate a new, biennial series and is presented in partnership with the Centre interuniversitaire d’études québécoises (Université Laval/Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières) and the Centre d’histoire des régulations sociales (Université du Québec à Montréal). The program committee is co-chaired by Professors Eric Reiter and Peter Gossage in the Department of History at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Those interested in participating are invited to please send a 250-word abstract and a one-page curriculum vitae (or brief author biography) to LAWS.Symposium@Concordia.ca by 31 May 2018.