This research area centres on the role played by law across different points in history, and the specific historical antecedents of contemporary legal systems, institutions, and rules. Where do the practices and processes that we take for granted come from, and what has led them to take their current form? Law is a discipline which draws heavily on its own past, but it has also been influential in shaping society across many periods of human history. Engagement with historical archives, with the testimonies and biographies of those who witnessed change in the past, and with other evidence as to our past are all means of furthering our understanding of law's role in society, both then, now and in the future.


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Researchers working in this field bring many of the methodologies and conceptual approaches of historical inquiry to bear on the analysis of law, and have engaged with a wide range of issues, including the history of the British Courts (such as the Privy Council) and constitution; the law governing crime, violence, and honour; the law of commercial and contractual relations, and of women and the legal profession. By looking to the past, members of this research area have been able to inform current and future debates about the law and its administration in important and sometimes surprising ways.

The theme also welcomes proposals from academics who would like to spend some time with us as a Visiting Scholar. More details on the process for applying can be found here.


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