Legalism: Property and Ownership, Edited by Georgy Kantor, Tom Lambert, and Hannah Skoda (OUP, 2017)
In this volume, ownership is defined as the simple fact of being able to describe something as 'mine' or 'yours', and property is distinguished as the discursive field which allows the articulation of attendant rights, relationships, and obligations. Property is often articulated through legalism as a way of thinking that appeals to rules and to generalizing concepts as a way of understanding, responding to, and managing the world around one. An Aristotelian perspective suggests that ownership is the natural state of things and a prerequisite of a true sense of self. An alternative perspective from legal theory puts law at the heart of the origins of property. However, both these points of view are problematic in a wider context, the latter because it rests heavily on Roman law. Anthropological and historical studies enable us to interrogate these assumptions.
The articles here, ranging from Roman provinces to modern-day piracy in Somalia, address questions such as: How are legal property regimes intertwined with economic, moral-ethical, and political prerogatives? How far do the assumptions of the western philosophical tradition explain property and ownership in other societies? Is the 'bundle of rights' a useful way to think about property? How does legalism negotiate property relationships and interests between communities and individuals? How does the legalism of property respond to the temporalities and materialities of the objects owned? How are property regimes managed by states, and what kinds of conflicts are thus generated?
Property and ownership cannot be reduced to natural rights, nor do they straightforwardly reflect power relations: the rules through which property is articulated tend to be conceptually subtle. As the fourth volume in the Legalism series, this collection draws on common themes that run throughout the first three volumes: Legalism: Anthropology and History, Legalism: Community and Justice, and Legalism: Rules and Categoriesconsolidating them in a framework that suggests a new approach to legal concepts.
Medieval Violence: Physical Brutality in Northern France, 1270-1330 (Oxford Historical Monographs) (Oxford University Press, 2012)
Medieval Violence provides a detailed analysis of the practice of medieval brutality, focusing on a thriving region of northern France in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. It examines how violence was conceptualised in this period, and uses this framework to investigate street violence, tavern brawls, urban rebellions, student misbehaviour, and domestic violence. The interactions between these various forms of violence are examined in order to demonstrate the complex and communicative nature of medieval brutality. What is often dismissed as dysfunctional behaviour is shown to have been highly strategic and socially integral. Violence was a performance, dependent upon the spaces in which it took place. Indeed, brutality was contingent upon social and cultural structures. At the same time, the common stereotype of the thoughtlessly brutal Middle Ages is challenged, as attitudes towards violence are revealed to have been complex, troubled, and ambivalent. Whether violence could function effectively as a form of communication which could order and harmonise society, or whether it inevitably degenerated into chaotic disorder where meaning was multivalent and incomprehensible, remained a matter of ongoing debate in a variety of contexts. Using a variety of source material, including legal records, popular literature, and sermons, Hannah Skoda explores experiences of, and attitudes towards, violence, and highlights profound contemporary ambiguity concerning its nature and legitimacy.