Over the last few decades, early Islam has become increasingly ‘Late Antique’. In the fields of legal and religious history, recent research into early Islam has begun to draw new and exciting points of comparison and contrast between early Christian, Jewish (Rabbinic) and early Islamic law and legal practice. Deliberately taking early Islam as our endpoint, this lecture aims to trace the contours of a new Late Antique legal history; a legal history that includes (late) Roman law, but is not limited to it. Drawing on both legal and extra-legal evidence, including papyrological documents from the recently published Petra and Nessana collections, my focus will be on what the legal sociologist Marc Galanter has termed ‘local legal cultures’: “…the complex of enduring understandings, concerns, and priorities shared by a community of legal actors and significant audiences in a given locality…”. How did universal(ized) legal claims operate on the ground, in local, Late Antique, contexts?
Caroline Humfress (Ph.D. Cantab) is Professor of Mediaeval History and Deputy Director of the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research at the University of St Andrews, UK. She has previously held academic positions at the Universities of Oxford, UC Berkeley and London (Birkbeck). Her research interests focus on law, religion and intellectual history and she has published widely in the field of Late Antiquity (c.200-650CE). She is currently coediting The Cambridge Comparative History of Ancient Law (with David Ibbetson and Patrick Olivelle) and has a monograph on multi-legalism in Late Antiquity forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Details of her publications are available.
COSPONSORED BY THE EBERHARD L. FABER 1915 MEMORIAL FUND IN THE COUNCIL OF THE HUMANITIES