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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter shows how rhetorically inflected legal histories may integrate questions about sources and archives, destruction and silences, and the many temporalities of law. It argues that rhetorically oriented legal histories foreground issues that today’s legal histories sometimes forego. Rhetorically inflected legal histories make explicit and render problematic the ways in which law is an object of study for the scholar of history—a subject who draws on and interprets legal records to recount how law has changed over time. Rather than aiming to reverse this subject-object relation and to make history the object of law, rhetoric dwells on the ways in which legal historians’ assumptions as to the sources, silences, and temporalities of legal history correspond to knowledge of the positivist law of the modern state.

Keywords: legal history, positive law, rhetoric, subject-object, archive

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