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Friday, May 31, 2013

Patrick dissertation on Blasphemy law in Canada and the Anglo world

Jeremy Patrick, now of the University of South Queensland, has posted his dissertation on SSRN.

Here's the abstract for "The Curious Persistence of Blasphemy: Canada and Beyond"

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the history and future of the crime of blasphemy. In the introduction, several key questions are examined: (1) What is blasphemy? (2) Why do people blaspheme? and (3) What are the real or perceived harms of blasphemy? Subsequently, Part I examines the history of blasphemy and blasphemy-like laws in six jurisdictions around the globe: England, Ireland, Australia, Pakistan, the United Nations, and the United States. The jurisdictions chosen illuminate the fact that blasphemy is a complex concept which can be regulated in a wide variety of ways. These six provide an excellent picture of the varied and diverse ways the concept of blasphemy has operated and an understanding as to why it remains relevant today. Part II of this dissertation turns away from a global, comparative examination of blasphemy and instead provides a comprehensive, in-depth study of a single jurisdiction: Canada. This sustained history of blasphemy in Canada, the first ever published, allows for a valuable snapshot of the evolution of the crime into its modern form. Part III synthesizes the research and analysis in Parts I and II to answer the fundamental questions: what is the future of the crime of blasphemy in Canada and beyond?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Osgoode Society website!

Many readers have noticed (and commented!) that the Osgoode Society website has been stuck at last year for quite a while (i.e. since last year.)
We are pleased to announce that the new website is now operational! It's been a lot of work, by Jim and Marilyn and others, and would not have been possible without the help of a generous grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario.  Thanks also to the Bora Laskin Law Library of the University of Toronto, which provided a home for the site while it was under construction.
The url is the same:, but the site is no longer hosted by the Law Society of Upper Canada (who are also to be heartily thanked for their sponsorship of the old site and the society's operations in general.)
Having an independent site means that we can sell/renew memberships and books online and update more often. That doesn't mean this blog is going out of business--at some point it will be integrated with the new site, but for now we'll stay here. And there are a few other wrinkles, but it's an exciting initiative.
Check it out!

New from MQUP: Weaver on Suicide in NZ in 20th century

McGill-Queen's University Press has released its fall catalogue, which includes some great-looking books.

Sorrows of a CenturyOne of these is Sorrows of a Century: Interpreting Suicide in New Zealand, by McMaster University historian John Weaver, a interdisciplinary study using coroner's records.

The publisher says:

In Sorrows of a Century, John Weaver describes how personal relationships, work, poverty, war, illness, and legal troubles have driven thousands to despair. His study is set in twentieth-century New Zealand where - in spite of high standards of living and a commitment to social welfare - citizens have experienced the profound losses and stresses of the human condition.

Focusing on New Zealand because it has the most comprehensive and accessible coroners' records, Weaver analyzes a staggering amount of information to determine the social and cultural factors that contribute to suicide rates. He examines the country's investigations into sudden deaths, places them within the context of major events and societal changes, and turns to witnesses' statements, suicide notes, and medical records to remark on prevention strategies. His extensive survey of twelve thousand cases also provides an insightful assessment of psychiatry and psychology in the last century. 

In reviewing the motives and methods of suicide, Weaver points out the complications facing deterrence. Moving beyond the timeless present of the social sciences and the irrationality emphasized in psychology, Sorrows of a Century marshals testimony to highlight the historical context and rational conduct behind suicide.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New journal: Comparative Legal History

A new journal of interest to Canadian legal historians has been launched by Hart Publishing under the editorship of Sean Donlan, of the University of Limerick Faculty of Law. Sean is known to many of us through his visits to the Toronto Legal History Group and transatlantic conferences. Canada is represented on the international editorial board  by Philip Girard and Mary Jane Mossman.

Comparative Legal History is published both online and in print twice a year, appearing in the spring and the autumn.

The publishers describe the journal as 

an international and comparative review of law and history. Articles will explore both 'internal' legal history (doctrinal and disciplinary developments in the law) and 'external' legal history (legal ideas and institutions in wider contexts). Rooted in the complexity of the various Western legal traditions worldwide, the journal will also investigate other laws and customs from around the globe. Comparisons may be either temporal or geographical and both legal and other law-like normative traditions will be considered. Scholarship on comparative and trans-national historiography, including trans-disciplinary approaches, is particularly welcome.
Submissions are to be in English, with an optimal length for articles between 7500 to 15000 words, including footnotes. Shorter submissions will be considered for our 'Short Articles' section. All articles are submitted to double blind peer review. Book reviews will generally range from 1500 to 2500 words. Review articles will also be considered.

For information on articles contact Professor Heikki Pihlajamäki, Helsinki University

For reviews, Dr Agustin Parise, Maastricht University

Comparative Legal History is the official journal of the European Society for Comparative Legal History.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Updated: New book by Ed Cavanagh on Land Rights and Colonialism in South Africa

Update: This book will be launched at The Space, 139 Bank Street, Ottawa, evening of Thursday 6 June. .

Settler Colonialism and Land Rights in South Africa - Edward Cavanagh Last year's Osgoode Society Peter Oliver Prize winner, Edward Cavanagh, Trillium Scholar at the University of Ottawa and co-founder of the e-journal Settler Colonial Studies, has just published Settler Colonialism and Land Rights in South Africa; Possession and Dispossession on the Orange River, available at Amazon and MacMillan. The book will be launched in Ottawa June 6th. Congratulations, Ed!

Here's the publishers' blurb:

Layers of dispossession and disruption are definitive of South African history. Bouncing from Griqua Philippolis (1824-1862) to Afrikaner Orania (1990-2013), this book shows how land rights are prioritised in pre-apartheid and post-apartheid contexts. The result is a new way of looking at the country's history - different to the version of history that guided transformation and inspired an idiosyncratic system of land restitution.