THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Social Science blog

29 April 2014

Law, Gender and Sexuality

In this post Jon Sims, Curator for Law and Socio-Legal Studies, writes about the third national socio-legal training day to be organised by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the British Library and the Socio-Legal Studies Association. The training day will be held on the 19 May 2014 at the Institute of Advanced legal Studies, London.

Question: What do the following have in common - a lapel badge exclaiming “keep your filthy laws off my body”, the “disciplinary gaze” of the police in interwar London, OECD statistics, wills, the British Museum and National Portrait Gallery, feminist legal judgments, oral history recordings at the British Library, and a 1907 leaflet advertising a talk by a certain â€śMiss Pankhurst LL.B” (Bachelor of Laws)?

Answer: they are all topics or items from major collections to be discussed at Law, Gender and Sexuality: sources and methods in socio-legal research - an all-day event on 19 May 2014 at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.

Following the model of previous successful events, this year’s training day aims to draw attention to archives and content which newcomers to the investigation of intersections between law, gender and sexuality may not be aware of and to consider the methodological and practical issues involved in analysing sources.  Read on for a taste of this year's presentations by academics, archivists, librarians and curators brought together specically for the event.

Launching the day, the law and feminism session sees Professors Rosemary Hunter and Rosemary Auchmuty discussing, respectively, empirical, feminist analysis and redrafting of legal judgments and the sources and methods informing feminist approaches to sexuality and law scholarship and the gendered interrogation of common identities assumed by the simplistic “gay and lesbian” coupling or notions of the “LGBT community”. Later on, addressing same sex relationships Daniel Monk will focus on the insights afforded by wills, overlooked legal documents offering insights on family, gender, kinship and personal life and on issues associated with their use, while Rosie Harding draws from her utilisation of LGBTQ popular culture sources, sharing her experiences of working with autobiographical narratives, utopian film and literature, cartoons and images.

Drawing from the new “Sisterhood & After: An Oral History of the Women’s Liberation Movement” project, Dr. Polly Russell will explore how activists involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement challenged cultural assumptions about women and will raise questions about  the intersection between this and legislative change in the areas of reproductive rights, equal opportunities and education. Other British Library resources treating or offering a window on areas of law, gender and sexuality within varied, sometimes cross-disciplinary contexts, and not easily found within a traditional law library will be highlighted as well.

Introducing the Hall Carpenter Archive (1958 onwards) and the Women’s Library@LSE in the context of the LSE collections for gender and sexuality studies, Heather Dawson provides background, scope and practical details for exploiting this renowned archive of post Wolfenden gay activism, and what a former Fawcett Society councillor is quoted to have described as “a gold mine of information of the political and social history of women”.

While Elizabeth Dawson and Fiona Cownie investigate the potential for gender focussed research in the Archives of Legal Education at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Cownie shares theoretical and practical insights drawn from her research on Claire Palley, the first woman to be appointed to a Chair in Law in the U.K.  Bridging the themes of legal education and professions, and Men, Masculinities and Law, Professor Richard Collier draws attention to diverse primary sources and sociological data utilised in research on diversity, work life balance and wellbeing in law firms and universities, and father’s activism in law reform.

On visual sources and methods Professor Amanda Perry-Kessaris provides a tour of treasures with a law, gender and sexuality theme hidden or showcased at locations such as the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, while Dr. Dominic Janes draws attention to the research potential of police photographs to investigate the “disciplinary gaze” of London’s police and compare arrests of “effeminate homosexuals” and so called “normally” dressed men in club raids in the interwar years.

If you are interested in attending the conference why not register?  The student rate is just ÂŁ30.00 for the whole day.

Articles developed from last year's event on legal biography can be read on SAS space using the search term Legal Biography and in special issues of Legal Information Management

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