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Vol 23 No 4 April/May 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks: Executors, Administrators and Probate

Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks: Executors, Administrators and Probate

Edited by: Alexander Learmonth, Charlotte Ford, Julia Clark, John Ross Martyn
Price: £295.00

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Williams published

Religion, Race, Rights: Landmarks in the History of Modern Anglo-American Law

ISBN13: 9781841137292
Published: May 2010
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback
Price: £22.99

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This new book presents a modern history of Anglo-American law that takes into account the influence of religious, social, political and economic factors on the development of the law.

Specifically, it highlights the interconnections between three framing concepts that the author argues are a central triangular force in the development of modern western law: religion, racism, and human rights. What this shows is that our current understanding of the rule of law is historically grounded and linked to the particularities of Christian morality, the forces of capitalism and exploitation of minorities, and specific conceptions of individualism that surfaced firstly with the Reformation in the 16th century, and rapidly developed in the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The book critically engages with basic assumptions that modern western law is an objective and rational enterprise. Drawing upon landmark legal decisions and historical events, the book emphasises that justice is not blind, because our concept of justice changes over time and is linked to economic power, social values, and moral sensibilities that are neither universal nor apolitical.

This point is of great significance in the 21st century where the economic might of the USA and the west often leads toward a myopic vision of law and a belief in its universal application. This ignores the cultural specificity of western legal concepts, and prevents people appreciating that, analogous to past colonial periods, in a global political economy Anglo-American law is not always transportable, transferable, or translatable across political landscapes and religious communities.

Legal History, Jurisprudence
Introduction: Connecting Religion, Race and Rights
I: Moving toward Separation of Church and State
Chapter 1: Martin Luther and the Challenge to the Catholic Church (1517)
Religion: Protest and Reform
Race: The Infidel Turk
Rights: Demanding Secular Law
Chapter 2: Executing the King: The Trial of Charles I (1649)
Religion: Protestant and Catholic Violence
Race: Religious Intolerance and Legalizing Racism
Rights: Defining the Rights of King, Parliament and Subject
Chapter 3: Revolution and Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (1791)
Religion: The Age of Reason and the Challenge of Science
Race: Questioning Slavery and Discrimination
Rights: Law's Coming of Age in Rights of Man
II: Capitalism, Colonialism and Nationalism
Chapter 4: Sugar, Slaves, Rebellion, Murder (1865)
Religion: The 'Divine Institution' of Slavery
Race: Scientific Racism
Rights: Empire's Right to Massacre
Chapter 5: Demanding the Eight-Hour Workday (1886)
Religion: Law as Faith
Race: Racializing Labor 161
Rights: Workers versus Laissez-Faire Capitalism
Chapter 6: Civilizing Native Americans—The Dawes Act (1887)
Religion: Missionaries and Heathens
Race: Determining the Race Within
Rights: Limiting Native Sovereignty
III: Religion, Race and Rights in a Global Era
Chapter 7: Nuremberg's Legacy (1945–49)
Religion: Confronting Religious Pluralism
Race: Rethinking Race
Rights: Implementing Human Rights
Chapter 8: Democracy, Neoliberalism, and the New Crusades
Religion: Exploiting God
Race: 'Saving Brown Women'
Rights: The Challenges of Neoliberalism
Conclusion: The Resurgence of Faith