07 September 2010


The University of Cambridge's Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) has announced a very interesting competition for a visiting fellowship there during 2011-12 on the theme of 'Cultures and Politics of the Transregional':

Borders – regional as much as national – are constantly being crossed, both in reality and in fantasy, in socio-political systems of lived experience and in socio-cultural systems of representation. They are crossed by the flow of travellers and longer-term migrants; by the transit of goods, symbols and technologies; by the transfer of new narratives and forms of language; and by the transmission of political and other ideas. At the same time, borders are selective barriers to movement, calibrated for imbalance in the relationships between East and West, North and South and the regions that are aligned with these. Transregional flows – transactions or translations on human, cultural, intellectual, political and economic levels – are conditioned by the interests of those who govern the borders in question.

Historically, geographical and legal borders have delimited the reach of regional identities, which were constructed against those perceived as ‘other’ and instituted or reinforced binary divisions in culture, language, institutions and ideas of selfhood. Today, the dynamics of import and export – sustained not least by new technologies – are more able to cross borders, whether political, cultural, linguistic or economic. And the dynamics in question are driven by changing factors: resource depletion, climate change, hegemonic shifts, and economic disparities. This increase in human and cultural traffic transforms not only borders between regions but also circulating values, objects, practices, meanings and identities.

In an age of more globalised movement and exchange, flows across regional borders and the filtering or blocking systems that control them are ever more large-scale and complex in character. Accordingly, they demand rethinking in interdisciplinary and comparative ways. The new transregional constellations can also prompt us to reassess historical forms of relationship between global regions, which may have been obscured by the tendency to focus attention on the regional as a category of understanding and disciplinary organisation.

Adopting a wide comparative perspective in both geographical and historical terms, and considering both bilateral and multilateral forms of relationship, the work on the theme of Cultures and Politics of the Transgregional will focus on achieving a better understanding of the dynamics of flow and the systems of regulation and resistance that operate between and across regions.

This seems very closely related to our aims. The deadline is 1 November 2010 and fellowship details are available here.

NOTICE: Janke and Licari on France and Louisiana

Two new articles co-written by Benjamin West Janke (Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC) and François-Xavier Licari (University of Metz (Paul-Verlaine), Faculty of Law) have been posted on the SSRN. Each explores legal connections between France and Louisiana:

In this essay, François-Xavier Licari and Benjamin W. Janke will show that the relationship between Louisiana and France is not limited to written law; it also exists in one important extra-codal and equitable principle of prescription law: contra non valentem agere non currit praescriptio. In this regard, the juridical parenthood is tight. They will show that contra non valentem in Louisiana is the fruit of French doctrine and jurisprudence. Furthermore, they will bring to light the noticeable similarity of the maxim’s fate in France and Louisiana. Courts in both jurisdictions proclaimed it as dead, but despite the antagonism it faced, contra non valentem evolved as a major component of prescription’s institution. Finally, they will dispel a deep-rooted myth that contra non valentem does not apply to the domain of acquisitive prescription and reveal another strong convergence between Louisiana and France.

'The French Revision of Prescription: A Model for Louisiana?' (forthcoming, Tulane Law Review)

Though the draftsmanship of the French and Louisiana Civil Codes is generally celebrated, prescription in both Codes is notoriously defective. Located at the end of both Codes as almost an afterthought, the titles of prescription do not share the same general, relative style contained elsewhere. Part of the cause of the prescription title’s shortcoming is attributable to the content.

The provisions that ring loudest are spelled out in numbers rather than letters. Numbers are blind, arbitrary, cold, and inanimate - ace of society accelerates, prescription becomes anachronistic. It is worth questioning whether the very nature of prescription eludes the capacity for codification.

Prescription’s inherent difficulties have created turmoil for both the French and Louisiana civilian systems. Both have struggled with the arbitrariness of any one particular prescriptive period, attempting to balance objectivism against subjectivism, relativity against certainty, and generality against particularity. Though both France and Louisiana began with what might be considered excessively long general periods of prescription, the French and Louisiana legislatures either whittled down the general period or chiseled out particular actions from it. Over time, these piecemeal amendments eviscerated the core components of the doctrine, causing a desperate need for substantial revision.

In 2008, the French legislature took the necessary step and drastically reformed prescription. The general period is now shorter and unified (five years); there are new grounds for suspension (including codified contra non valentem); and a long-stop period is introduced. Louisiana has yet to make any substantial reform to prescription, and revision is long overdue.

This essay will outline the faults in Louisiana and France’s original prescriptive regimes and identify the main innovative trends in the French revision. It then will offer a critical appraisal of the French revision, endorse it as a basis for a Louisiana revision, and discuss how Louisiana jurisprudence is uniquely positioned to integrate the revision in French law. We offer the following as a true dialogue from both the French and Louisiana perspectives about the continuing influence of the French Civil Code in Louisiana, the nature of prescription and its placement in a Civil Code, and the unique opportunity for the Louisiana experience to influence the interpretation of the French revision.

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS (REMINDER): Mediterranean Hybridity Project Roundtable (Catana, 25 October 2010)

An interdisciplinary roundtable on the legal and normative hybridity of the Mediterranean region will be held in Catania on Monday, 25 October 2010. Organised with Juris Diversitas and hosted at the University of Catania, the event is part of the Mediterranean Hybridity Project launched in Malta in June 2010.

The extraordinary legal and normative hybridity of the Mediterranean was produced in a complex history of conquest, colonisation, and social and legal diffusion across shifting and porous boundaries. But studies of the subject have been isolated, sporadic, and too often framed within narrow jurisdictional and disciplinary constraints.

The Mediterannean Hybridity Project is creating a collaborative interdisciplinary network of experts to study both (i) the state laws that are the domain of lawyers and (ii) the wider normative orders typically studied by social scientists. The project marries conceptual and empirical models from the legal and social sciences, especially earlier analyses of ‘mixed legal systems’ and legal/normative pluralism.

Our intention is to create multidisciplinary jurisdictional reports, resulting in a published collection, and a database on the laws and non-state norms of the region. The roundtable will allow the project leaders to select the participants involved over the course of the project, to finalise the questions to be posed, and to consider our options for collaboration and funding.

The outcome of the project will be more accurate, useful, and accessible accounts of Mediterranean legalities. It may produce an analytical model more useful than existing taxonomies and methods for new research in the region, in Europe, and around the world.

The project leaders are Dr Seán Patrick Donlan (University of Limerick), Dr David Zammit (University of Malta), and Dr Simon Mercieca (University of Malta).

Anyone interested in attending should contact Dr Seán Patrick Donlan (sean.donlan@ul.ie) or Dr Biagio Andò (bando@lex.unict.it). While the organisers are not able to fund expenses, there is no cost to attend. We are especially eager to include participants (i) from the Balkans, the Levant, and North Africa and (ii) anthropologists, geographers, historians, and sociologists. Individuals or institutions interested in participating or sponsoring our work should contact us.